On core muscles

I went out last night, and woke up with a mild stomachache. Not the food poisoning type, more a dull pain, a bloated feeling, and unusual awareness of my internal organs.

As a gay man, I’m very aware of bodies and muscles. I’m exposed often to body types I’m invited to desire and reproduce. Lean and ripped, these bodies resemble anatomical planks of 16th century Europe, with details of the musculature clearly visible to the eye. But this type of body never appealed to me, neither as model nor fantasy.

When I practiced singing, I was encouraged to focus on other, hidden muscles. I had to strengthen nameless back muscles above the waist, expanding the rib cage, and develop control of my diaphragm. I also needed to synchronise a system of core muscles in my legs and torso, controlling posture.

Today, to counter my stomachache, I intentionally focused on my inner body. On the tram to the market, I pushed my solar plexus forward and backward, unlocking tensions around my ribs, and gently massaging my abdomen. At lunch, I chewed longer than I usually do, to lighten the burden of digestion on my stomach.

All along, I’ve been thinking: what would it feel like to live in a world that perceives and celebrates not superficial body shapes, ripped abs, bulging pectorals and curled biceps, but core strength? What would it feel like to live in a world that doesn’t care about the look of a body, but its rhythm and stance.

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