Human "innie" navel
Female Outie 2.jpg
Human "outie" navel

The navel (clinically known as the umbilicus, colloquially known as the belly button) is a scar on the abdomen caused when the umbilical cord is removed from a newborn baby. All placental mammals have a navel, and it is quite conspicuous in humans.[1]

In humans, the navel scar can appear as a depression (often referred to colloquially as an innie) or as a protrusion (outie). Although frequently separated into these two categories, navels actually vary quite widely among people in terms of size, shape, depth/length, and overall appearance. As navels are scars, and not defined by genetics, they can serve as a way of distinguishing between identical twins in the absence of other identifiable marks.


Human anatomy

The navel is at the golden ratio at 62 percent of body height

The umbilicus is a prominent mark on the abdomen, with its position being relatively consistent amongst humans. The skin around the waist at the level of the umbilicus is supplied by the tenth thoracic spinal nerve (T10 dermatome). The umbilicus itself typically lies at a vertical level corresponding to the junction between the L3 and L4 vertebrae,[2] with a normal variation among people between the L3 and L5 vertebrae.[3]

The umbilicus is also used to visually separate the abdomen into quadrants. The navel comes in the center of the circle enclosing the spread-eagle figure in Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, his famous drawing on human proportions. This illustrates the principle that in the shift between the spread-eagle pose and the straight pose, the apparent center of the figure seems to move, but in reality, the navel of the figure remains motionless. As well as the umbilicus forming a visible depression on the skin of the abdomen, the underlying abdominal muscle layers also present a concavity; thinness at this point contributes to a relative structural weakness, making it susceptible to hernia.[citation needed] During pregnancy, the uterus presses the navel of the pregnant woman outward, however it usually retracts after birth.

The occurrence of an outie navel is caused by the extra skin left from the umbilical cord or from umbilical hernias, although a child with an umbilical hernia will not necessarily develop an outie. Some people have a smooth indentation instead of an innie or outie, usually due to surgery for an umbilical hernia, gastroschisis, or abdominoplasty (tummy tuck).

Aki Sinkkonen at the University of Helsinki in Finland thinks that the navel may be an indicator of mating potential in fertile women.In his article in the The FASEB Journal, he proposes that the umbilicus, together with the surrounding skin area, is an honest signal of individual vigor.He suggests that the symmetry, shape, and position of umbilicus can be used to estimate the reproductive potential of fertile females, including risks of certain genetically and maternally inherited fetal anomalies.[4][5]

Alternative Medicine

Manipura chakra that represents the navel

According to Ayurveda, the navel is an important site in the human body. Nearly 72,000 subtle nerves or nadis converge in this area.[6] By the principles of Ayurveda and yoga, the human body is made up of six Chakras of which the Manipura chakra is located at the spine directly behind either the navel or the solar plexus, depending on the system, while its kshetram or superficial activation point is located directly on the navel and represents the element Fire.[7][8][9][10]Vayu, which is one of the three Doshas specified in Ayurveda, is divided into five sub categories. Of these, Samana Vayu (situated in the navel region) is believed to aid in digestion and to give physical strength to the body.[11][12]

In Indian traditional medicine, Cyperus rotundus tuber is made into a paste and applied around the navel to relieve pain caused by roundworms. Pomegranate plant juice & paste is used for snake bite, the juice is dropped into nostrils, ears & the navel.[13]

In Sri Lanka traditional medicine, a composition of herbs, powdered pepper & water is applied to the navel in the form of a paste as a remedy for stomach aches.[14] Similarly, during difficulties in delivery, a betel leaf is placed on the woman's navel which is believed to be under a spell.[15]

Erogenous zone

The navel is one of the many erogenous zones that has heightened sensitivity.[16]The navel and the region below when touched by the finger or the tip of the tongue result in the production of erotic sensations.[16][17] This is because the navel and the genitals have a common tissue origin, and in some people this connection still exists so that stimulation of the navel will elicit a distinct tickle in the genitals.[18]In the Song of Solomon, a book in the Hebrew Bible, there are allusions to exotic things in nature, with frequent interweaving of nature with erotic imagery. In Solomon's lavish praise of his love – the country girl, Sulaimi – the navel is mentioned as follows: "thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor" (7:2).

Navel exposure in culture

A woman wearing a cropped top and low-rise pants which exposes the midriff and navel

Western culture

A woman exposing her navel in a 1950's bikini.

Hays Code

Displaying a bare navel has been a taboo at times in Western cultures. The famous Hays code banned the exposure of the navel.[19][20] During the 1950s, actress Joan Collins was prohibited from displaying her bare navel for the film Land of the Pharaohs by the censors. She was made to wear a navel jewel, a ruby, to meet the censors' guidelines.[21] This technique of gluing jewels on the navel to cover it and baring the midriff began to be used in many other films featuring belly dance sequences.[22] During the 1960s,actress Barbara Eden was not allowed to show her navel on the US TV show I Dream of Jeannie.[23][24]During 1970s,The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour of CBS featured TV personality Cher exposing her navel which was considered a first in television history.[25] But the network censors feared her navel exposure would become a cause célèbre at CBS.[26]


Britney Spears in navel exposing attire performing "Womanizer" at the Femme Fatale Tour on July 26, 2011.
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in their trademark outfits that expose the navel.

However, Fashion exploits the navel through low-rise clothing that leaves the midriff or lower abdomen bare. These navel displays commenced with the introduction of the bikini in the 1940s[27], and have become increasingly popular through sporting styles comprising modified sports bras without additional outer garments, sports bikinis, and cheerleading style fashions developing largely from the styles originating with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in the early 1970s. The modern trend of exposing the navel has usually been confined to women, apart from a 1980s fashion male belly-button shirt fad, although males have long exposed their navels when going shirtless, such as when swimming. This low-rise fashion started in the early 1990s when the British magazine The Face in its March 1993 issue cover featured Kate Moss in low-rise jeans.[28] Models like Gisele have always flashed their midriffs.[29] The display of the navel in women's fashion has partly grown out of the sportswear and swimwear styles that became popular during the twentieth century, themselves linked to successes of the feminist movement and developments in clothing technology. Due to the current wide acceptance of navel display in Western societies, navel piercing[30] and navel tattoos[31] have become more common among young women. Actress Drew Barrymore has a butterfly tattoo beneath her navel.[32]The growing popularity of belly dancing, where navel exposure is a necessity, has also added to the navel exposure trend. Among belly dancing instructors, the innie navel is preferred over the outie.[33]

20th Century Music

Besides fashion, 20th century music culture is another reason for popularity of navel exposure.Many famous pop stars such as Madonna, Britney Spears[34], Jennifer Lopez[35] etc., have flaunted their navels during their performances. During the early 1990s,Canadian country singer Shania Twain appeared in low jeans baring her midriff and navel in her music videos and performances.[36][37][38] It became the most widely discussed body part in country music,which became her own unique trademark.[39][40] More recently Spin magazine chose Madonna's navel as its "most incredible" rock star body part for a September 2005 feature.[41][42]

Indian culture

Ancient times

Drawing of an Ancient Indian dancer in navel exposing attire

While the West was relatively resistant to midriff-baring clothing until the 1980s, it has long been a fashion with Indian women.[43] These women, especially those from Southern India, have traditionally worn saris that bare the midriff.[44][45]Women from Rajasthan leave the midriff exposed while wearing Ghagra Cholis.[46] However, these women often cover their heads with a Dupatta,[47] and may even cover their faces in front of strangers. This lends credence to the belief that navel-baring in India has a symbolic, almost mystical, association with birth and life, and that the display is meant to emphasize the centrality of nature in the nurture role.[48] One of the reasons can be that in ancient indian tradition,the navel of the God Vishnu the Protector is considered to be the center of the universe and the source of life.[49] From his navel a new world of the future emerges. This has been depicted in many ancient indian sculptures as a lotus emerging from the navel on which God Brahma the Creator is seated.[50][51] Due to this the midriff & navel is set to be left bare in a sari.

In ancient India, although women wore saris that bared the midriff, the Dharmasastra writers stated that women should be dressed such that the navel would never become visible.[52] The trend of exposing the navel was started by women who were dancers, acrobats, or entertainers, and who developed a technique of wearing the sari like a pair of trousers well below the navel to assist in the free movement of the legs.[53] This trend slowly spread to become common among unmarried young women. Women in this type of attire are very common in many ancient Indian sculptures,[54][55] and paintings.[56] Technically, a typical women representation in ancient Indian art include an hourglass figure with large waist, breasts, buttocks and a deep navel.[57] By the Indian Physiognomy of a women's body,if the navel of a woman is deep, then she is popular and is loved by her husband. Broad, fleshy and not very deep navel indicates that such a woman is quite lucky. A woman with navel raised on the right side, leads a queen like comfortable life.[58]

Recent times

Navel exposed in Sari.

With their migration to different countries, many Indian women began to wear the normal sari below the waistline exposing the navel, which is known as a low-rise sari or low hip sari.[59][60][61] Also, due to liberalization and changing global markets, saris are re-emerging as an erotic wrap, which can expose as much as it conceals.[62][63][64] As a result, saris began to be designed in many innovative ways and using different materials. Transparent and semi-transparent saris made of sheer fabrics like chiffon are one such example.[65][66][67] Gradually navel exposure gained a permanent role in modern Indian fashion.According to Fashion designer Swapnil Shinde,the Indian fashion scene is just about exploring the show-off navel for the ramp.According to model Candice Pinto,the navel is the sexiest part of the human body but showing off the navel should be a matter of personal choice.[68] These modern saris may be draped in different ways[69], such as a petticoat being tied about 10 to 13 cm (4 to 5 in) below the navel, just above the pubic area, and a small blouse ending just below the breasts with a thin pallu exposing some part of the blouse and almost the entire midriff.[70]

Bollywood Actress Amisha Patel in a navel exposing ghagra choli.

This style was popularised by Bollywood celebrities and other popular regional film industries, such as Tamil cinema and Telugu cinema.[71]Female dancers of Bollywood have always exposed their navels[72] and cameras have always focused on their navels.[73] For example,in the 1968 Bollywood film Brahmachari, Actress Mumtaz was seen in a Sharara sari flaunting her navel[74][75] for a song and dance number "Aaj kal tere mere".Sharara is a long flowing pant like a divided skirt at bottom with a long blouse.The unique feature of the Sharara is the skirt which has less flow than lehenga. It is like a loose pant fitted till the knee, with a big flare from the knee onwards.It later became so popular that till date this type of saris is known to be Mumtaz Saris.[76][77] Actress Aishwarya Rai showcased her navel in a brocade choli and dipped ghagra for the hit song "Kajra Re" in the film Bunty aur Babli (2005).[78][79][80] Actress Deepika Padukone had once commented," in showing off cleavage, chances are you might end up looking indecent. But that isn't the case with the navel. It's sexy in a very natural way."[81]

Some even wear navel jewels or navel piercings to emphasize and make the navel attractive.[82] In 2009, actress Priyanka Chopra appeared in a "Mumtaz Sari" and showed off her navel jewellery when she attended the premiere of her film What's Your Raashee at the Toronto International Film Festival.[83][84] Very recently in August 2011, South Indian actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu made a flutter at the audio launch of telugu film Dookudu exposing her midriff with a navel piercing in a sari.[85] These styles are mainly worn by rich, educated, upper class women who regard navel exposure as a fashion.[86][87][88] Sometimes this style is modified, with the navel being covered by the pallu when wearing a low-rise non-transparent sari. In some corporations in India, saris are required to be worn in an elegant manner avoiding navel exposure.[89]

Sri Lankan culture

7th Century Sigiriya frescoes depicting women in navel exposed attire
Sinhalese women performing a traditional Sri Lankan dance in navel-exposing attire.

The royal ladies in the Sigiriya frescoes depict women wearing the cloth gracefully draped as a dhoti, tied in a knot at the front and pulled down exposing the navel. They wear pleated robes from the waist upwards, save for necklace, armlets, wristlets, ear and hair ornaments and displayed their breasts. The ladies in waiting wear waist clothes, a few ornaments and a firm 'breast bandage' or thanapatiya.[90]

In the Sinhalese poetic work Kaviyasekara, a father advises his married daughter as to proper clothing,

Sinhalese: "Pekaniya nodakva Salu e(n)da bolata dakva Nopava tana sakva Sina nomasen dasan dakva."
English: "Dress your garment above your navel,without exposing the fair bosom, and expose not your teeth in laughing."[91]

See also

External links


  1. ^ Important Facts About Navel
  2. ^ Ellis, Harold (2006). Clinical Anatomy: Applied Anatomy for Students and Junior Doctors. New York: Wiley. ISBN 1-4051-3804-1. [1]
  3. ^ Basic Human Anatomy – O'Rahilly, Müller, Carpenter & Swenson – Chapter 25: Abdominal walls. Dartmouth Medical School. Retrieved November 2010
  4. ^ Belly Buttons May Signal a Woman's Vigor
  5. ^ Umbilicus as a fitness signal in humans - Aki Sinkkonen
  6. ^ Ayurvedic massage: traditional Indian techniques for balancing body and mind - Harish Johari
  7. ^ The Hidden Mysteries of Kundalini - R. Venugopalam
  8. ^ Chakras: energy centers of transformation - Harish Johari
  9. ^ The Encyclopedia of Ayurvedic Massage - John Douillard
  10. ^ Ayurvedic Message for Health and Healing - S. V. Govindan
  11. ^ Ayurvedic healing cuisine: 200 vegetarian recipes for health, balance, and longevity - Harish Johari
  12. ^ Secrets of Ayurvedic Massage - Atreya Craig Smith, Atreya
  13. ^ Medicinal plants of the world - chemical constituents, traditional and modern medicinal uses - Ivan A. Ross
  14. ^ The Sri Lanka Reader - History, Culture, Politics - John Clifford Holt, Robin Kirk, Orin Starn
  15. ^ Exorcism and the Art of Healing in Ceylon - Brill Archive
  16. ^ a b A celebration of sex - Douglas E. Rosenau - Chapter 3 - Your Erogenous Zones.
  17. ^ Touch Me There!: A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots - Yvonne K. Fulbright.
  18. ^ The Essence of Tantric Sexuality - Sex and Sexuality Series - Mark A. Michaels, Patricia Johnson, Rudolph Ballentine - Chapter 13 - Tertiary Erogenic Zones
  19. ^ The bikini book - Kelly Killoren Bensimon
  20. ^ American cinematographer, Volume 72, Issues 1-6 - ASC Holding Corp., 1991
  21. ^ Three complete books - Joan Collins
  22. ^ Dear Shira - A Jewel in the Navel?
  23. ^ I Watch, Therefore I Am - From Socrates to Sartre, the Great Mysteries of Life as Explained Through Howdy Doody, Marcia Brady, Homer Simpson, Don Draper, and Other TV Icons - Gregory Bergman, Peter Archer
  24. ^ Censoring sex: a historical journey through American media - John E. Semonche
  25. ^ The 1970 - Kelly Boyer Sagert
  26. ^ Lillian Roxon's Rock encyclopedia - Lillian Roxon
  27. ^ The Two Piece Swimsuit Evolution
  28. ^ "Navel Mauvers". New York Magazine. 10 May 1993. p. 26. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  29. ^ Cropped tops = midriff mania = abs-olutely erotic - ESTHER GROSS KREMER
  30. ^ Designing Clothes - Culture and Organization of the Fashion Industry - Veronica Manlow
  31. ^ Rhetorics of display - Lawrence J. Prelli
  32. ^ Before you put that on: 365 daily style tips for her - Lloyd Boston
  33. ^ New York Media, LLC (10 May 1993). New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. ISSN 00287369. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  34. ^ From Sweet Teen To Oversexed Star - BILL HUTCHINSON
  35. ^ Cropped tops = midriff mania = abs-olutely erotic - ESTHER GROSS KREMER
  36. ^ Shania Twain - The Biography - Robin Eggar
  37. ^ Grammy magazine, Volume 17, Issue 1 - National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (U.S.)
  38. ^ Westward expansion - Sara E. Quay
  39. ^ Understanding popular music - Roy Shuker
  40. ^ On Her Way - The Life and Music of Shania Twain - Barbara Hager
  41. ^ Madonna's navel tops 'Spin' list
  42. ^ Spin cites Madonna's navel
  43. ^ Banerjee, Mukulika & Miller, Daniel (2003) The Sari. Oxford; New York: Berg ISBN 1859737323
  44. ^ Alkazi, Roshan (1983) Ancient Indian Costume. New Delhi: Art Heritage
  45. ^ Ghurye (1951) Indian Costume. Bombay: Popular Book Depot
  46. ^ Social Science a Textbook in History for Class IX as per New Syllabus - FK Publications
  47. ^ India - R.I.C. Publications
  48. ^ Beck, Brenda (1976)The notion of ' pipoh' is more modernly used to describe the navel in a jovial manner. The origins of the modern word (pipoh) are shrouded in ambiguity but many believe that it was created as a slang term by Poonam Odedra (milton keynes UK), to which it found fame and thus a mainstream word in Gujarati nowadays. The well established buffet restaurant chain in the UK (Milton Keynes) named; 'All you can you Pipoh !' has added to the popularity of the word, now often exclaimed in a falsetto tone between teenagers and young adults. The replacement of the word Pipoh! for the navel has growing popularity, especially amongst the modern Gujarati generation; in India and the UK. "The Symbolic Merger of Body, Space, and Cosmos in Hindu Tamil Nadu" in: Contributions to Indian Sociology; 10(2): 213–43.
  49. ^ Principles of composition in Hindu sculpture: cave temple period - Alice Boner.
  50. ^ Indian Sculpture: Circa 500 B.C.-A.D. 700 - Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pratapaditya Pal.
  51. ^ Indian Sculpture: 700-1800 - Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pratapaditya Pal.
  52. ^ Encyclopedia of Indian Women Through the Ages: Ancient India – Simmi Jain.
  53. ^ Jyotsna Kamat (1 February 1980). Social Life in Medieval Karnataka. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 9780836405545. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  54. ^ Origin and evolution of Indian clay sculpture - Charu Chandra Das Gupta
  55. ^ Indian Sculpture - Circa 500 BC to AD 700 - Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pratapaditya Pal
  56. ^ Salabhanjika in Art Philosophy and Literature - Rajkamal Prakashan Pvt Ltd
  57. ^ Medical literature from India, Sri Lanka and Tibet - Rules and remedies in Classical Indian law - Johannes Bronkhorst, Gerrit Jan Meulenbeld, Julia Leslie
  58. ^ Physiognomy Of Women
  59. ^ Brian M. Du Toit (1990). Aging and menopause among Indian South African women. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780791403907. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  60. ^ Sari Below Navel - Enhance Your Beauty and Grace
  61. ^ Style and Attraction - Saree Navel Dress
  62. ^ Clothing matters: dress and identity in India – Emma Tarlo.
  63. ^ A Sexy Saree - Get Daring and Trendy!!!
  64. ^ What makes a saree hot?
  65. ^ Margaret Maynard (2004). Dress and globalisation. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719063893. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  66. ^ Jennifer Craik (1 December 1993). The Face of Fashion: Cultural Studies in Fashion. Taylor and Francis. ISBN 9780203409428. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  67. ^ Transparent Saree - Add Spice to Your Style!!
  68. ^ Rise of the Navel - 'Bollywood navel fashion has led to re-emergence of sari' - India Today
  69. ^ Informal Saree Draping at Utsav Fashion
  70. ^ Meanwhile: Unraveling the sari. (2005-04-28). Retrieved on 2011-06-11.
  71. ^ Hot Navel Saree
  72. ^ How Enemies Are Made - Towards a Theory of Ethnic and Religious Conflict - Günther Schlee
  73. ^ Cinema today - Edward Buscombe
  74. ^ Rise of the Navel - 'Bollywood navel fashion has led to re-emergence of sari' - India Today
  75. ^ The 5 Most Trend Setting Saree Scenes of Bollywood
  76. ^ Impress your man! Wear a ‘Mumtaz-Style’ Sari tonight!
  77. ^ Sharara saree and Bollywood
  78. ^ Top 10 Navels in Cinema - Bollywood top 10 navel showing actresses - India Today
  79. ^ Rampup - The business of Indian fashion - Hindol Sengupta
  80. ^ Bollywood's Ghagra moments
  81. ^ Rise of the Navel - 'Bollywood navel fashion has led to re-emergence of sari' - India Today
  82. ^ Be Your Own Beautician - Parvesh Handa
  83. ^ When Bollywood gals got pierced -
  84. ^ Vision In White? -
  85. ^ Samantha's naval piercing attractive! -
  86. ^ Navel is the new cleavage for sexy Indian women
  87. ^ Dress and gender: making and meaning in cultural contexts – Ruth Barnes.
  88. ^ The cultures of economic migration: international perspectives – Suman Gupta, Tope Omoniyi.
  89. ^ Dr Saurabh Bhatia. Indian Corporate Etiquette. Saurabh Bhatia. ISBN 9788190696401. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 
  90. ^ The Garb of Innocence - A Time of Toplessness
  91. ^ A descriptive catalogue of Sanskrit, Pali, & Sinhalese literary works of Ceylon - James De Alwis

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • navel — navel …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • navel — (n.) O.E. nafela, nabula, from P.Gmc. *nabalan (Cf. O.N. nafli, Dan., Swed. navle, O.Fris. navla, M.Du., Du. navel, O.H.G. nabalo, Ger. Nabel), from PIE * (o)nobh navel (Cf. Skt. nabhila navel, nave, relationship; Avestan …   Etymology dictionary

  • navel — [ navɛl ] n. f. • 1912; mot angl. « nombril » ♦ Orange d une variété caractérisée par la formation d un fruit secondaire interne. Un kilo de navels. Appos. Orange navel. ● navel nom féminin (anglais navel, nombril) Variété d orange présentant un… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Navel — Na vel (n[=a] v l), n. [AS. nafela, fr. nafu nave; akin to D. navel, G. nabel, OHG. nabolo, Icel. nafli, Dan. navle, Sw. nafle, L. umbilicus, Gr. omfalo s, Skr. n[=a]bh[=i]la. [root]260. See {Nave} hub, and cf. {Omphalic}, {Nombril},… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • navel — [nā′vəl] n. [ME < OE nafela, akin to Ger nabel < IE base * ombh , *nōbh , navel > NAVE2, L umbilicus, Gr omphalos] 1. the small scar, usually a depression in the middle of the abdomen, marking the place where the umbilical cord was… …   English World dictionary

  • Navel — Allgemeine Informationen Genre(s) Alternative Rock Gründung 2003 Website …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • navel — ► NOUN ▪ the small hollow in the centre of a person s belly caused by the detachment of the umbilical cord. ORIGIN Old English …   English terms dictionary

  • Navel — The umbilicus, the former site of attachment of the umbilical cord, usually found in about the middle of the abdominal wall. The appearance of the navel depends on how the cord was cut and also on the condition of the underlying muscle. If the… …   Medical dictionary

  • Navel — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Le navel est : une variété d orange le mot anglais pour « nombril » Georges Navel, écrivain l éditeur japonais de jeux vidéo Navel… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • navel — naval, navel Naval is the adjective relating to navy, and navel is the rounded knotty depression in the centre of the belly (also in navel orange etc.). The two words are unrelated …   Modern English usage

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