FREE THE BELLY BUTTON

In out, in out, shake it all about.

Of all the body parts you can expose whilst riding the tube – tits, legs, back – the one you garner the most attention for in life, is your belly button. Something quite curious happens when you show your belly button. It’s like the central whirlpool in the jacuzzi that is your midriff. It’s got much more personality than the rest of your body parts, so it generates a certain level of curiosity (see the rabid fan case of, ‘where is Taylor Swift’s tummy button’) when you reveal it. And, when you have an ‘outie’ tummy button, as I do, it garners the same kind of shock-factor as if you had inverted nipples and were traversing the tube carriage offering them up as an not easily accessible milk bar.

Given this summer’s penchant for high-waisted denim and cropped rib knits, I’m interested to see how many tummy buttons I spot around town. Is it only me? I ask, imploringly. Last week I wore tailored All Saints black trousers and a cropped, scalloped silk Chloe shirt, whilst doing full frontage button. It garnered a single comment from a friend via Instagimp about how she had no idea that I’d been hiding an outie on my person (it’s got serious, randomly inexplicably shock factor, an outie; “God I had NO idea you had an outie”) but it was more the averted looks on the tube that tittilated me – because it takes a certain amount of gumption past the age of, say, 23, to reveal your belly button in urban circs.

To which I ask: when did the tummy button get so political? Granted, a lot of people resent the soft swell of their belly – but no-one cares much when the soft swell of breast is offered up, as a sort of chin rest. Perhaps it’s because the tummy button does not come with the subtext of sexiness. What’s so confusing about it is that it doesn’t come with any kind of subtext except vaguely that of teenage girls, which is why it might be problematic. People argue that you can only reveal your ‘driff if it’s flat – and I’m aware that not everyone is going to jump on my belly-button bandwagon. But don’t forget Lynda Carter, who defies the hard-bodied myth, with her soft sexiness.

Everyone assumes that because I have a tummy button that happily masquerades as a creature in a hole, that I’d be self-conscious about it. But I’m not. Not even when a friend of mine accidentally went “oh, GROSS” when I was wearing a bikini top and cut-off denim shorts in my early twenties. Or when I was 14 and at boarding school and my friends and I decided to send the vertically challenged object of my affection pictures of all our stomachs so he could guess which mine was (I know, no words) and he goes “obviously I knew yours straight away because you have that weird tummy button.” No, strangely I’ve always been extraordinarily fond of my prominent belly button, despite the fact that it will pop out like a button nose during pregnancy and does invite people to flick it.

Essentially, a tummy button is never going to be beautiful. No guy is going to fall for a girl – and vice versa – because of her banging button. Even if you don’t have an outie (traditionally the most polarising of the buttons), the others aren’t much better: an innie looks like you’ve been sucked in through your stomach, vortex-style, whilst a half and half always strikes me as the end of a bit of chewed sausage.

Too graphic for you? It shouldn’t be. You’ve all got one. Let’s stop the tyranny of the tum. If boobies can swing like pendulous puppy ears and thighs spill sumptuously out of shorts all summer long, then we should get over the prominence of the belly button, whatever guise she may take. I am, as you can tell, a fan. Hashtag GET YOUR BUTTON OUT won’t be trending in my social media domain any time soon, but it’s time we stopped expecting an exposed ‘driff and belly button to come on a nubile female form. With last summer’s campaign in mind, Free The Nipple, I’m encouraging this summer’s: Free The Button. Let yours out; let them all out. They’re the finest accessory you have.

comments powered by Disqus