Large Tummy

by Dina, The Costume Goddess

Dear Costume Goddess,

I am a raw beginner at bellydancing, and I am feeling self conscious about my tummy. It sticks out quite a bit, and I don't know how to make it look good in a bellydancing costume. I am really excited to learn because it seems like a kick-butt workout, (plus it just sounds hip to say that I am learning to bellydance!) but for now, I have no clue on what to wear to look sexy and not silly!

--Tummy Troubled


Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

Dear Troubled,

Don't feel it necessary to expose your tummy if it makes you self-conscious. That would tend to inhibit you in class and performance.

As a beginner you can wear a pretty leotard to class -- sleeveless would be coolest -- and wear a skirt and fringed hip scarf or coin belt over this to get the suitable shimmy and flip effect. If even a leotard makes you self-conscious, try draping a chiffon veil over one shoulder and tucking the ends in your belt.

Large Tummy
Slight Tummy

Later you can wear a lovely baladi dress or evening gown with an easy fit through the middle, perhaps in a sheer lace or mesh that shows some skin without feeling bare, and a more ornate hip scarf or belt.

Burgundy Dress by Hanan
Black Dress by Hanan
Midnight Blue Dress by Hanan

Click on any of the three above photos to see the costumes in more detail.

The above three photos all show examples of dresses made in Egypt that were created for use as bellydance costumes. All contain styling details that de-emphasize large abdomen areas such as:

  • Bare skin in the chest and shoulder area to draw the eye upward away from the problem area
  • Leg slit to create vertical lines and draw attention down to the leg
  • Asynchronous design that leads the eye in a diagonal line across the body
  • Cutouts at the hip that draw the eye down below abdominal level
  • Placement of sequins in vertical lines to draw the eye downward from the abdomen and make it travel up / down across the body
  • Decoration at the hem to draw attention and create balance for a larger middle

All three of these dresses were created by Egyptian designer Hanan Mahmoud.

The center photo was taken by Andre Elbing, and the other two photos were taken by Kaylyn Hoskins.

If your tummy is not marked and protrudes only slightly, a low-cut belt is actually more flattering than one that cuts the abdomen across middle, as shown to the right in the above diagrams.

More possibilities: A bra and belt set can be worn with a tummy cover to conceal the problem area. Pictured are a beaded or sequined scarf sewn to bra, a decorated chiffon veil draped over middle as shown, and a strip of net in flesh color or costume color. Tummy Covers

As you look around among your comrades-in-zills and see dancers' tummies of all sizes revealed, you may decide to do the same with your own, especially if you notice it becoming more shapely and rolling like the wave that rocked the Titanic!

--The Costume Goddess


Women of all sizWomen of all sizes can bellydance! Try it even if you think you are overweight!

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