Extraordinary People

Woman says ‘round bellies’ are beautiful in frank video urging us to love our bodies

There’s been a lot of talk about gaining weight during lockdown recently and not being “summer body ready”, but seriously what does it even mean to have a beach ready body?!

There’s been a lot of talk about gaining weight during lockdown recently and not being “summer body ready”, but seriously what does it even mean to have a beach ready body?!

All shapes are beautiful but it’s not easy to always believe that when we’re constantly shown flat tummies, flawless skin and toned physiques in the media and advertising.

One woman on a mission to try and change the way we think about our figures – in particular our bellies – is Emily Harding.

Emily is a yoga teacher who created the hashtag #ALLBELLIESAREBEAUTIFUL and since posting her eye-opening video in June, she has been inundated with hundreds of messages from people who have related to her revelation.

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Scariest thing I've ever posted, if you've ever even just ONCE looked at your belly and not liked what you've seen, please please dive into this with me, cos I tell you what, I HAVE REACHED THE END OF MY GODDAMN TETHER AND ITS TIME FOR A RADICAL AWAKENING FOR. US. ALL. Where are you right now? Are you holding your belly 'in'? On auto-pilot, because we've been conditioned to do so? This is a raw and heartfelt call to action to all you out there who might well have had enough too. #ALLBELLIESAREBEAUTIFUL Last week I had a meltdown. I sat on my mat crying just 30mins before I was due to teach. I hated being in my own body, hated the pressure I put on myself. I delve into it in the vid so please watch. Key Take-Aways: 🔴 ROUND IS A BEAUTIFUL SHAPE🔴 🟠 ROUND IS A BEAUTIFUL SHAPE 🟠 🟢 ROUND IS A BEAUTIFUL SHAPE 🟢 Let your belly be free to breathe, to perform the magical alchemy that happens inside it, for all of us. Let's be radical and stop diminishing ourselves. @brenebrown once said "I'm dangerous I like myself so much" – let's all be freaking dangerous. Imagine how many businesses/industries would go bust if women started loving themselves. It's gonna be hard to unpick what we've been told over the years but I personally am ready to start now. I hit a dark place last week and I'm ready to stop letting body image control my life. Let's start a revolution. please stop diminishing yourself. If you feel called to, share a snap and tag it #AllBelliesAreBeautiful. MY Belly, when it's bloated, when it's not, when it's empty, when it's full of veggies, pizza, prosecco, you name it, IS BEAUTIFUL. don't know why it's taken me to 29 to realise but I promise you won't see me 'sucking it in' anymore. We all owe our bodies better than that. If I can do something positive by sharing a message that might inspire just ONE person then the terror of posting this will have been worth it. 🙈 THIS is what #YehNotMeh is all about.

A post shared by Emily Harding | 🎥 Yoga Teacher (@yehyoga) on

In the six-minute clip, Emily bravely wears a black bikini top and floral bottoms as she shows off her bloated belly – and oh my is it uplifting!

“I want to talk about bloating and body image,” she says. “I look like this quite frequently, but right now it’s extreme. It’s probably because I’m due on my period in the next few days. And this is something… I don’t want to say I’ve struggled with, but we need to take back this while idea of ‘oh your belly should be small’.”

She continues: “I’ve hated my belly in the past, I’ve hated that it sticks out. I’ve been conditioned to think it should be smaller.”

However, Emily had somewhat of a wake-up call after having a Reiki session with a woman who told her: “Round is a shape and round is a beautiful shape, just like all the other shapes. Who has told you that round is not a worthy shape?” And now Emily is keen to try and pass that message on – and we couldn’t be happier.

Speaking to Uspire, Emily said the response to her video has been “overwhelming and massively uplifting”.

“I honestly had hundreds of comments and messages and it seemed like the video had really struck a chord with a lot of people, with some even saying it was the only thing that had recently made its way past all the years of conditioning they had experienced in having to ‘have’ a flat tummy,” she told us.

“It showed me that actually this is a huge area of body image that needs shouting about, for both men and women, as often this is the one part of the body that no matter how hard you train, how healthy and ‘careful’ you are, often can be wildly outside of your control and that can lead to devastating mental health effects, particularly in women.”

However, Emily did admit that she was reluctant to post the clip to her 4,488 followers on Instagram.

“I never had any intention of even filming it, but I got so upset and something inside me just snapped and I filmed it, it was the most liberating outpouring of emotion,” she explained.

“It took the love and support of a close friend of mine to help me find the strength to literally bare all! She told me (and rightly so!) that it was incredibly powerful medicine, and the exact medicine that everyone needed to see. So that helped me to go for it!”

But Emily knows it’s not always easy to love your body, so we asked her what advice she would give to someone looking to start the shift…

“Of course everyone’s body is so unique and the journey so different for all, as everyone has different things they’re so zoned in on. Truly though, for everyone, I can’t recommend enough starting with a bit of a reality and perspective check. Your body works, your body is not in danger,” she advised.

“If you’re bloated, you’re bloated with delicious food that you found it easy to source and buy. Millions of people around the world don’t even have access to food, sanitation, clean water, healthcare, and we’re worried about our health and happiness because of how we look?

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I won't lie, I've definitely added some additional mass to my body over lockdown in the past few weeks alone. I've put on muscle, and also extra fat, which has gone around my tummy. But fat isn't a bad word, it's a descriptive word. ❌I don't view it as a bad word, or a bad thing to have on my body, but if you do, that's YOUR problem, not mine. ❌ Here's your weekend reminder, you'll probably get bloated or your tummy might stick out this weekend but SO WHAT!? Better than holding it in and barely being able to breathe like I was at the start of this vid… LOL. Maybe, shock horror, our bellies might not actually be totally flat, like, EVER?! I believe that is absolutely fine, it's better than fine, it's BEAUTIFUL! So check in with your body. 💜 Shake your wobbly bits 💜 💚 Give your belly some love 💚 💛 Remind yourself you're beautiful on the inside AND the out 💛 🧡 And then get out there and enjoy your weekend, without worrying what the actions that make you happy, are going to 'do' to your belly shape 🧡 This is as much a reminder to myself as it is to all of you. I'm on this journey too, to fully love and accept myself just as I am, and however I change. Lots of love, hope you all have a beautiful weekend and let's keep Normalising Beautiful Bellies! #AllBelliesAreBeautiful #bodypositivitymovement #BodyLove #bekindtoyourself #bekindtooneanother

A post shared by Emily Harding | 🎥 Yoga Teacher (@yehyoga) on

“We are SO privileged and lucky to be in the situation we are. Now, I know that isn’t going to change anyone’s views on themselves overnight, it’s just something I personally find really helpful if I’m spiralling into a bad place by being too zoomed in on myself.

“For me, what I found most liberating was to share my belly (in this case online!), and start to embrace it’s roundness and fullness.

“ROUND IS A BEAUTIFUL SHAPE, who’s told you it’s not? We have to decide for ourselves, and find the strength and courage not to buy into the industries that want to keep making us feel like crap to take our money,” she continued.

“To start a shift of being comfortable in your own skin, I’d say it’s really important to challenge negative thoughts about your body when they arise, apply the filter of ‘reality check’ and instead mindfully speak to yourself about how that negative is actually a positive. There’s always a positive.

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New YouTube Class premiering tonight 6-7pm BST! 'Strong Abs' Yoga Flow – aka a Power Yoga For All, no need to be able to arm balance or handstand as per so many power yoga flows. ❤️ Link in my bio to find it and watch it at 6pm. Every week, on a Monday night, this seems to be my most popular class and I don't doubt why. Everyone wants a 'strong core' it's what we've been wired to covet and crave over our lifetime, and don't get me wrong, this class packs a punch and I adore yoga for all it's different tempos and styles but in this class as any of my regular students will (I hope!) testify, this class is a call to arms to examine how we are spending our time and energy, and what would the world and our lives look like if we spent just as much time helping others, as we did on getting our own Abs 'Strong'…? Sweat and soul-search, I invite you in with loving arms everyone! Enjoy the bit at the end where I'm randomly nervously playing with my foot and where halfway through I have a complete brain fog moment and can't remember what I wanted to say. I don't believe in perfect, but I do believe in trying. If you've waited until you're perfectly ready, you've waited too long, so I hope you can enjoy the fact that this class is raw with its love and passion, but by no means perfect! 🤪💕❤️ Taking a few days off from live classes this week for personal reasons, so I will catch you all back for live classes from Thursday. Thurs – 6-6.45pm – 'Positive Yoga' for @adidaslondon – link in my bio, IGTV Live. Fri – Flow To Restore – 12-1pm – Zoom sign up. Please do subscribe to my channel for more free classes and let me know how you get on with this week's class! What should I put up next? #poweryoga #youtubeyoga

A post shared by Emily Harding | 🎥 Yoga Teacher (@yehyoga) on

“Look for what you LOVE about your body, not loathe. Consciously look for, and celebrate, the things your body CAN do, not the things you think it can’t.

“I can’t recommend enough, to share your belly in a snap online or a story, it’s like sticking a stake in the ground to say, this is me, this is how I look, I am normal, I am beautiful, this is a beautiful NORMAL body. There’s so many edited, warped, filtered, photoshopped images out there, we need to start trying to even that out with images of REAL bodies!”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! So, what are you waiting for? Now that summer’s here, show your belly some love and the recognition it deserves because all shapes are something to shout about!

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