- The Guardian, Wednesday 3 December 2008
Some are pretty - a bare stomach with hearts and flowers drawn on in marker pen and lipstick. Others get straight to the point: "Here's your fat belly," someone has written on a stomach swelling beneath a red satin bra. "Now fuck off Roadrunner."
The record label Roadrunner has been getting some serious online bellyache from fans of one of its artists, Amanda Palmer, after she reported on her blog that she had been asked to cut shots from the video for her solo song Leeds United because "they thought I looked fat".
"I thought they were on crack," writes Palmer, the wonderfully punchy singer from Boston-based cult band The Dresden Dolls. "I'm a vain motherfucker. I know when I look fat ... but this was just nonsense. I thought I looked HOT. I really, really didn't see where they were coming from. So I didn't budge."
Her fans - women, mainly, but a few men too - started sending pictures of their own bellies to Roadrunner in protest, and the Rebellyon movement (www.therebellyon.com) was born, celebrating stomachs of all shapes and sizes. There are pictures of supposedly "perfect" tummies and those that have been through the transformation of pregnancy bearing stretch mark memorials. There are bellies that have obviously put in years of heavy drinking ("I drink beer and love my belly") and tummies belonging to people with better things to do than sit-ups. A woman called Julie writes: "Never had a flat belly, Amanda changed my thinking!"
Another holds up a sign next to her bare stomach reading, "It is scum like Roadrunner in today's messed up society that nearly caused me not to be here to post my Beautiful Belly". On a gloriously pregnant tummy a plea is written in red lipstick: "Who needs love? Bellies!"
The thing is that Palmer, who does a lot of yoga, could never be described by even the most pernickety fashion editor as fat, which goes to show how warped the perceptions of some marketing executives have become, even the ones who work for independent labels. Not, of course, that it would have made their censure acceptable if she was overweight. And it is worth noting that Roadrunner's unease with tubby tummies appears to apply only to its female artists. A look at the label's other bands, including Megadeth and Slipknot, reveals some stomachs that are hardly Beckham-esque in their proportions.