Is 51 too old for a belly shirt?

I owned a cropped top once, until it caught on fire while I was wearing it. Thanks to the era of high-waisted pants, the shirt barely exposed my midriff. I was in my mid-twenties then, living on my own, and I wore said shirt while cooking dinner. All of the sudden, I smelled burning. It was my shirt, which was at the perfect length to fondle my stove element. Somehow I removed the shirt, flames and all, without burning myself, but I kept my shirts long after that. (You can understand now why J. refuses to buy me a gas stove.)

My current upper-body coverage is not really cropped, per se; my shirts are just rendered short by the size of my belly. Imagine a pregnant woman wearing a t-shirt not made to accommodate her expanding girth. That would be me with my massive spleen. The combination of my huge belly and my outie make me a tiny bit (hugely, really) self-conscious, so for the past several years, I have been wearing two shirts, one under the other. This way, if my outer shirt rises up, my unseemly midsection remains covered.

But during our recent heat wave, I decided to let loose a little and try going shirt-solo. I can keep my bulge covered if I’m hanging out at home or going out for errands. I’d even feel okay about the lesser coverage had that woman at the coffee shop last week not stared repeatedly at my belly as I ordered. Mind reader that I am, I know she pegged me as a wanna-be post-menopausal mom who had undergone fertility treatment.

Yoga is another story. I know, I know, people only care about their own bodies in yoga, but I’m self-conscious about others seeing my disproportionately large midsection nonetheless. And in some classes we spend a lot of time with our arms over our heads. As it stands, I’m worrying about matching my underpants to my yoga pants; do I need to fret about my belly peeking out from under my shirt too?

But I thought: I’m a big girl now (no pun intended) and it’s time I practice what I preach. I’ve watched those Dove commercials. I will love the body I have and stop trying to hide it under multiple layers. (It’s not like the second t-shirt hides my girth; it just covers it.) So I went to three yoga classes with only one shirt on. I picked the t-shirt carefully, hoping it would keep me adequately covered in all poses, and for the most part it did. But I caught the odd glimpse of my naked protrusion in the mirror during class and I didn’t like it. Even in a class without a mirror, my potentially exposed belly was all I could think about. Yes, I failed in my attempt to feel more comfortable with my body.

So I’ve decided to keep wearing one shirt when I go out (small steps are better than no steps, I say), but I’ll be adding an extra layer for yoga. Or maybe I’ll buy some more t-shirts that I can trust will cover me even in wheel pose. Who am I kidding? I can’t even do half wheel; I’ll never master full wheel.

Woman in full-wheel yoga pose

I can assure you this will never be me.

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2 thoughts on “Is 51 too old for a belly shirt?

  1. Annie,
    I hope this is okay – a good friend of mine has a similar challenge (for a different reason) and loves yoga but hates “the exposure”. I mentioned your conundrum to her and she immediately sent me the following links – she swears by them b/c the tops apparently fit well, adjust with “shift changing” as she calls it, and will stay put. I’ve not used them but I thought, what the heck, fire this off as a consideration so that you can actually focus on self rather than midriff 🙂

    http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Loose-Fitting-Tank-Tops-Hide-Belly-21731018#photo-interstitial-0

    http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/ingrid-isabel-stripe-mesh-maternity-top/3821446?origin=category-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=Mulberry%2FCharcoal+Heather&resultback=2177

    http://www.motherhoodcanada.ca/maternity/activewear.asp

    http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/category.do?cid=56185&mlink=5758,9956896,DP_Sec_Mat_1_fly&clink=9956896#style=56187

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    • Mary: Any comment made with good intentions is always appreciated. I will check out these sites. I must admit I can’t get my head around the maternity clothes idea, even though I know it would be the easiest solution. J. kindly accompanied me to a maternity store once years ago and, despite her support, I found the experience hugely depressing. Maybe it would feel different if I were shopping on line. Thanks for taking the time to check with your friend. XO Annie

      Like

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