I bet that when you were a kid, you played with your belly button and you had no idea what it was. Of course, you may be thinking that it only serves as a reservoir for lint and hiding place for  other objects, or maybe when it is shown, it signifies a rebellion.  But ask yourself if you really know what a belly button is for?

Half of all the people asked, are clueless about the real meaning behind the belly button. Even, some of those asked had children of their own. Often it was just another annoying body part.  Some viewed it as a sense of liberation.

A belly button is a naval or in medical terms is called an umbilicus.  Plain and simple it is a scar on the abdomen where the umbilical cord attached.

It can be found in most mammals, but in humans, it seems that it is more pronounced, it has more character. In most mammals it is a small thin line that can be seen, but  it is usually covered by hair or fur.

In humans, and as you should know, it is just above the waist line.  This area of the skin receives message input from the T10 dermatome.   The level of the spine that physically correlates with the naval is somewhere around L3, L4, or L5 vertebrae.

By using the umbilicus, you can separate the abdomen into quadrants.


Innies and Outies

The position of the naval scar can be inside or a depression and either are referred to as an Innie.   90% of all humans have Innies.  This is where the extra skin from the umbilical cord is cut, just after birth.

Therefore an Outie is when there is a significant amount of extra skin left over after cutting the umbilical. Over time, as the scar sets, a lack of depression in the skin causes the Outie.

Often some of those ask believed that am Innie or Outie is defined by genetics. This is not the case. It is usually just your body’s way of reacting, forming a scar, to the extra skin from the umbilical cord.


Missing a Navel entirely

In some cases, previous surgery has eliminated the scar tissue that once served as your umbilical.   Umbilical hernia’s, skin grafts, stomach surgeries and more, may be the surgical reason that a lack of naval is seen.

But there are cases where a lotus birth may happen. The seal that is done around the umbilical cord is done to prevent infection. If no seal or clamp is done, the extra skin may fall off naturally. This may take more time, but a traditional naval may be missing.


Social Acceptance of the Naval

For many years, it was deemed inappropriate to show your naval in public or on television.  Within television there was a Hays Code that governed the production of most movies. It was held in placed in the early 1930’s and continued almost until 1970. During some shows in the 50’s, women were prohibited on showing off their naval. Even in the 60’s, this was prevented on some television shows.  It wasn’t until the 70’s that this practice was changed.

Now, it seems the naval is a very accepted with additional shirts, clothing, and bathing suits that easily show the naval and most of the abdomen.

Belly Dancing has increased tremendously in popularity.  Disney first showed a character’s belly button in The Little Mermaid in 1989.


Other Countries and the Naval

Indian women and several sculptures show women showing their navels.  Clothing such as a saris in India were well tolerated.

Japanese culture has felt the naval to be particularly special. They would show the naval on many hand crafted displays.  And symbolized the naval as where life begins.

Indonesian culture, at least in some circles, felt that showing a naval was too provocative. A statement was released to avoid showing too much skin.

Malaysia tires to cover the naval even if some parts of the abdomen are still shown.


Difference of opinion

As in many things in life, many people, cultures, and even age groups see parts of their own body differently. It is hard to say who is right in the end. But, at least from a medical point of view, the use of the naval is well known.

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