Sex therapist Rosie Rees explains why sucking in your stomach isn’t great for your health and how we can learn to accept our bodies more.

Who knows why we’ve been told since the dawn of time that having a flat belly is the key to looking and feeling good? What if it was flat feet or flat nails? It’s honestly bizarre when you think of it that way.

Anyway – moving past why we have certain tropes in our definition of ‘beauty’ (which could be a never ending essay) – many of us will have been victim to the ‘suck it in’ phenomenon at some point throughout our lives.

Yep, remember when your ballet teacher told you to pull your stomach in during your relevé or your mum reminded you to suck in before a family photo (usually accompanied with a belly tap). It turns out those *toxic* moments are actually not very good for you – emotionally (ofc) but also physically.

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Rosie Rees, sex therapist and founder of nude yoga classes Naked Awakening, was recently on Nova Podcast It’s A Lot with Abbie Chatfield, discussing why she’s started an awareness campaign around the practice of sucking it in.

“I realised at the start of this year that I was still sucking it in! Like in workshops, one of the things I always say is put your hand on your belly soften your tummy and take three deep breaths - and you know breathe into the belly. But I didn’t realise that I was still sucking it in!,” she explains.

If she was doing it as the yoga teacher, probably many in her class were also, so Rosie decided to bring awareness to the issue using her widely followed social media channels.

Rees says that sucking in isn’t just a bad influence on your mental health and how you feel about your body – but it can also be bad for your physical health.

"There’s two things that really happen when we are sucking in a belly all day,” she explains.

“First of all try and take a deep breath [when sucking in], you can’t breathe! Your breathing up in your chest, your upper lungs and that’s creating more anxiety for the body for breathing right up there in the chest.”

“And the other thing that’s happening is…this over active pelvic floor and if you’re sucking in your belly you’re actually unconsciously sucking in your vagina as well.”

“Everything’s getting lifted. So then there’s all these women out there who can’t have sex properly or can’t fully orgasm, or have issues down the track with incontinence. I don’t suck in ever now…I just don’t do it.”

Abbie mentions that even though she’s seen the awareness campaign, she still has to remind herself not to do it because it’s become so ingrained in her everyday.

“It’s part of my posture because it’s been happening – like you were saying – since I was a kid. And like for what?” she says.

“To impress who? That’s right. Who are we doing it for?” Rosie adds.

What she’s getting at is that ‘sucking it in’ is a concept tightly bound with the unrealistic expectations around women’s bodies, which can be really damaging especially for young women and girls.

Rosie is a firm believer in desexualising the naked female body and providing a safe place for women to explore their bodies.

You can follow Rosie and the hashtag #StopSuckingItIn on Instagram.

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