Have you heard of these terms? I’m assuming you’ve heard of body positivity, but maybe not body neutrality.
Body positivity is focused on loving your body and thinking you are beautiful as is. It is concerned solely on the physical self.
Body neutrality, by contrast, is loving yourself as a person and has nothing to do with the physical body. It’s loving yourself regardless of your appearance while appreciating your body for what it does for you on a moment to moment basis.
I want to make it known here that I am not saying body positivity is bad or not a good goal to have. However, I am saying that it can be unrealistic for many people. In our society, there is a very narrow window for what we accept as a “healthy” and “good” body. But when your body fits outside of that paradigm and society tells you there is something wrong with your body, jumping right to body positivity is a stretch. And some may never get there.
Enter the body neutrality movement.
This takes the focus away from our appearance and allows us to focus on other things that matter. Instead of spending so much time and energy focused on loving your body, you can come from a place of neutrality where you care less about your physical appearance and more about the function of your body.
Body neutrality gives you a sense of respect for what your body does, not how it looks. In this way, it’s still important to care for your body by giving it the nourishment, movement, and rest that it needs without judging your appearance along the way.
Our society tells us that we can assess how healthy someone is just by looking at them, but this is false. So much emphasis is put on how we look in every facet of our world that we often stake our self-worth on our appearance.
So, how can you become more body neutral?
- Instead of focusing on what you love about your body, focus on what you love about yourself as a person. Your strengths, your personality, how you show love and appreciation for others, etc.
- Find clothes that fit your body now. Not the body you had 5 years ago. Not the body you hope you will have in by this summer. Make sure those clothes fit comfortably.
- Move your body in the way you want to. Get curious about what makes you feel good. And the important thing here is that when you move your body, instead of focusing on how your body looks, focus on how you feel during and after. Exercise has a whole host of benefits past changing your body weight and size.
- Don’t berate yourself for having bad body image days either. This is a life-long journey that we have to constantly work on. You will have days where you are unhappy with your body, so just notice it and then move on with your day.
- If someone makes comments about your body weight or size, tell them you are practicing focusing on taking care of yourself and don’t believe emphasis needs to be put on your body. Also, it’s none of anyone’s damn business (if you want to tell them that too, by all means).
- Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are and don’t emphasize looks. I had some friends in my early 20s who thought it was very important to look good and have “pretty friends.” That shit was toxic. I was constantly comparing myself to others physically.
Be patient with yourself. Focus on loving yourself beyond your physical appearance. You may get to the place of fully loving your body and you might not. And both are okay.