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Belly body language


Techniques > Use of body language > Parts-of-the-body language > Belly body language

Pulling it in | Pushing it out | Touching | Pregnancy | See also


The belly (tummy, abdomen, venter, gut, stomach, paunch) is, for this section, defined as the area between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the hips.

Pulling it in

In romantic and 'body beautiful' situations, a flat tummy is considered desirable in both men and women as it indicates fitness and health. In men, at least, the ultimate is a 'six pack' where individual muscles can be seen.

Most of us, particularly as we get older, fall victim to excessive consumption of food and drink, resulting in a convex belly. Fortunately, we do have muscles in our abdomen and we use these to pull in the belly walls so, for at least whilst we are walking past that desirable other person, we look good.

For the determined, corsets may be used to apply constant inwards pressure. Whilst not as popular as they once were, these may still be found in surreptitious use.

Pushing it out

Sticking out the tum does not indicate a desire to be attractive and can be a counter-reactive move. Particularly in groups of men, 'letting it all hang out' without feeling judged can be quite relieving and contribute to male bonding (along with loud discussions and lewd jokes).

The tummy may stick out more as a counterbalance when we want to pull our vulnerable upper body and head away in a situation where we feel uncomfortably close to another person.


The tummy area contains the stomach and the intestine, both of which are used to process food and which may be subject to assorted pains as we over-eat or consume substances that disagree with us. Rubbing the stomach can mean the person simply has a digestive problem.

The abdomen walls contain significant muscles and we can carry tension here. Rubbing or holding them can thus indicate tension, for example from excessive worry.

The gut is particularly vulnerable to attack and is a common area for punching and stabbing. If the gut is pierced, this can cause internal bleeding and a slow death. Holding hands across the tum can thus be a defensive act when we actually or literally fear attack.


When women become pregnant, they have little opportunity but to let their ever-expanding abdomens push forward. This can be a point of pride, perhaps for feminism, perhaps as a signal of fertility or maybe just delight at impending motherhood.

See also

Hips body language

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