Miss Eaves Celebrates Bellies in Her “Belly Bounce” Video

With her How It Is EP out today, the artist shares an essay on the making of her body-positive visual.

You may remember Miss Eaves from her viral video “Thunder Thighs” a few years back, a wholesome and catchy-as-hell anthem celebrating plus-size thighs. Equally fun was the song’s visual, a slo-mo, dance-heavy romp set in a (somewhat) modernized version of Do the Right Thing’s steamy Bed Stuy. 

Three years later, Eaves has shared a spiritual sequel to the track: “Belly Bounce” duplicates the track’s message, while the video recontextualizes the ensemble clip for the era of quarantine. Released at the beginning of July, the track—along with its encompassing How It Is EP, dropping today—has all the attributes of an on-repeat summer obsession. 

Take a moment to view the clip below (and another moment to re-watch the clip, this time with your belly out) and read on for Eaves’ extensive inside look at the track and its body-conscious origins.

I was on a crowded 5 train going downtown. After riding for a few stops the woman sitting in front of me looks up, smiles and  asks,“So when are you due?” Due…as in, when am I going to have a baby…because she thinks I am pregnant. I wasn’t pregnant, unless you count the burrito I ate for lunch. Which meant not only was I barren, but I also was embarrassed. I quietly told her I wasn’t with child, and then we both spent the remainder of the train ride awkwardly avoiding each other’s gaze. 

Why would a stranger feel entitled to comment on my body at all.Unless someone’s water is breaking on your All Stars please do not ask them if they are pregnant. There is a whole rich history of people feeling entitled to comment on the appearance of women and femmes, but this is not about that. This is about me.

Why did I want to hide the moment someone mistook me for a new mom? Did I feel shame because being asked if I’m pregnant implies my childfree stomach is too big to be “normal?” 

Earlier that day I had convinced myself to finally wear a body con dress that I scored at a clothing swap. I had been too timid to wear it before, mainly because it highlighted my biggest insecurity: my stomach. That day, however, I felt brave. I put on my dress, strutted around Harlem taking photos for my body-positive style blog the Every Body Project confidently talking to strangers and low-key feeling myself with every interaction. I actually was feeling pretty confident, dare I say sexy as I stepped on the train. However, I  gave one single interaction the power to derail my entire day and self-esteem. I now had confirmation that another person noticed something I was insecure about, and  all of that confidence went away in a cloud of smoke. I wanted to rip off that dress and rock a moo moo forever. 

In the age of Kardashians body parts are commodified and treated as trends, and flat stomachs are in. In my song “Belly Bounce” I state: 

No. I’m not preggo
Belly just big. It shake like Jello
Lol mind your business thanx
I’d rather breath than squeeze in spanx

Aye. Shake my thang
belly bounce. Its jiggling.
Unashamed Wont suck it in.
I get loose when Im dancing.

I bend in my body con
Flattering Is such a yawn
Forget cute wanna have fun
Shaking i’m perfection

Hit the floor with some body rolls
Serving curves body oddy yo!
Belly bounce when I shake it low
Getting free I let it go

So even me, a person who is very self-aware, compared myself to others, and made myself the loser. I had internalized the message that says, “You can be curvy as long as your stomach is flat.” But here’s the tea: my stomach isn’t flat. The last time I had a completely flat stomach was fourth grade, and basically after that I’ve had this Boticelli belly. My whole adult life I have been navigating people wanting to chew the fat about my belly fat. This anecdote was just part of a rich history of someone assuming I am pregnant. This is literally a cultural phenomenon! 

If this assumption was a game show, it would look like this:

Behind door one is the man from my parents’ church who pulled me aside to lecture me because he was surprised a “good girl” like me went to college and got knocked up. This is a slut-shaming and body-shaming BOGO! Sorry it’s not a car.

Behind door two is my freshman suitemate who poked my belly daily sneering “OMG you are pregnant!” She didn’t stop teasing me until she actually became pregnant later that year. 

Finally, door three: the bartender at my friend’s wedding who refused to serve me because “he didn’t give booze to pregnant chicks.” Which is totally ironic because I really needed a drink after that conversation!

So yeah…my 5 train antithesis was not the only person who was all in my business. And although I can find the humor in these anecdotes now, at the time these interactions would totally send me into a shame spiral.

I’ve wasted so many hours hating my stomach. I’ve agonized over my naked profile in the mirror, tugging at my stomach to imagine how my life would be better if it disappeared. I’ve sucked in my gut in photos to only dissect those photos later. I’ve vilified my midsection, crammed myself into shapewear and allowed others to define what is worthy and beautiful. Every time I looked outside of myself to define my self-worth I’ve found the answer: “not good enough.”

But the truth is I am good enough. We all are. And once I looked for validation from myself I saw myself more holistically. I know that I am an entire being worthy of love and not just parts to be picked over and criticized. I have a belly, and although I still have days I wish it was different, they are becoming fewer and further between. 

So next time someone asks if I’m pregnant, I’ll keep my head high and smile as I say, “Yes, and I am accepting cash instead of a traditional gift registry.”

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