Each morning after showering, Kirsty Smith plays dodge-the-mirror while getting dressed at the speed of lightening, all to avoid laying eyes on one very normal part of her own body – her belly button. She’s not a big fan of yours, either, especially if you’re cursed with an outie.
“I try to avoid looking at any midriffs whatsoever, especially because I might catch an outie. They’re the most traumatising. Like, why does your belly button pop out like that? I can’t handle it,” the 29-year-old Aussie says. “Belly buttons aren’t cool anyway, but at least with an innie you can kind of ignore it. Ew. I’m so repulsed by them that I’m even feeling sick just talking about it.”
Omphalophobia – the extreme fear of belly buttons – isn’t all that convenient, because navels are kind of everywhere; at the beach, peeking out under tops as people stretch to high supermarket shelves, protruding from the stomachs of pregnant women.
“I try to avoid looking at any midriffs whatsoever, especially because I might catch an outie. They’re the most traumatising. Ew. I’m so repulsed by them that I’m even feeling sick just talking about it.”
Kirsty reckons those expecting mums are actually to blame for her phobia hitting top gear. She started noticing their swollen tummies punctuated by awful outie belly buttons after falling pregnant herself last year. “I have a really deep innie belly button, so my biggest fear in getting pregnant was like: ‘Oh my god, what if my belly button pops out? I’m not going to be able cope with that at all!’ It kind of did and I couldn’t even look at it. It was just horrendous and it still is,” she says.
Worse still came after the birth: her super cute baby boy came home with his super un-cute dried and bloody umbilical cord nub still attached. Kirsty coped by covering it with a blanket while changing him until it finally fell off, thankfully directly into his nappy so she could whisk it easily away, unseen. “Now he has a really cute little innie belly button, which I can handle because it’s kind of like mine. But I certainly don’t want to touch it,” she says.
Kim Kardashian gets it, because she’s apparently an omphalaphobe, too. And – confession time – so am I (Koren). New boyfriends quickly learn my waist is a no-go zone lest they accidentally brush my bellybutton – cue frenzied swearing – and even just writing Kirsty’s story has me squirming uneasily in my seat.
As for that slew of “hilarious” jokes about touching your own belly button, or mine? Not original and absolutely not funny. At all.
Kirsty agrees. “The more people know that I have this aversion, the more they try and get me. It’s awful. I also have a thing where I don’t like my knees being touched, though it’s not anywhere near as bad as the belly button thing. So my husband always goes for the knee, which is fine because I’ve got a bit more willpower there. But I can’t tell him that, obviously, because he’ll change his tactic and then we’ll be in trouble … I admit that I’m a total weirdo.”
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