CW: This article discusses topics of mental illness which could be distressing to some readers.
In today's digital age, body image has assumed unparalleled significance. Social media's pervasive influence magnifies pressures to conform to idealised standards. Nurturing a positive body image is paramount, as it empowers individuals to resist harmful comparisons, embrace diversity, and prioritise self-acceptance. Now more than ever, fostering a healthy relationship with our bodies is essential for overall well-being.
Social media impact on body image
According to research by Heather R. Gallivan, a large percentage of women (80%) and men (34%) are dissatisfied with their physical appearance, with social media playing a significant role in this trend. As per a BBC report, "fitspiration" photos featuring individuals with toned physiques exercising vigorously have been linked to increased body dissatisfaction among young women. Likewise, viewing similar websites could also lead to heightened body insecurity in young men. Furthermore, according to the Common Sense report, social media has a significant impact on the development of body image among young people as it provides them with the opportunity to be instantly judged and compared to others. A small percentage of teenagers, around 5%, who use social media are concerned about being identified in unflattering pictures. On the other hand, 27% of them face issues with their body image, while 22% feel negative about themselves if their posted pictures do not receive any "likes."
Body neutrality: A positive benefit on our lives
Accepting your body as it is in its current state is known as body neutrality. It doesn't have to involve self-love talk or mantras about your body, unlike the body positivity movement. Body neutrality promotes acceptance of both your body's abilities and the possibility that it may not always work or fit you perfectly. If you want to start using body neutrality, you might be unsure of where to start. Here are some ideas for how you can start incorporating this practice into different aspects of your life:
1. Self-Talk: It's important to acknowledge both the strengths and weaknesses of your body's performance in your daily life. This allows you to appreciate the aspects that your body excels in, while also accepting the imperfections as a natural part of your being. Avoid feeling ashamed or trying to conceal any perceived flaws. Embrace your body as it is.
2. Communication with others: When in the company of others, it's best to avoid discussing topics related to physical appearance and redirect the conversation if it does come up. This approach is referred to as "body neutrality." You have the choice to provide reasoning for your decision or simply refrain from commenting.
3. Social Interaction: Whether you know someone in person or not, if you follow them on social media, finding out what they are up to should make you feel good and happy. The body-neutral strategy would be to stop following them if they don't make you feel better about yourself. You should feel inspired by the lives of the people you see, not discouraged about yourself.
'Finding your inner peace through body neutrality
Hugh Ward defines inner peace as the ability to manage our emotions and achieve emotional stability and competence. Attaining inner peace can result in greater happiness, positivity, and contentment while reducing negative emotions such as depression and anxiety. By prioritising overall well-being and life satisfaction, one can maintain a positive outlook despite challenges and negative emotions. Moreover, developing empathy and active listening skills can improve our ability to connect and relate to others.
In conclusion, embracing body neutrality is crucial for achieving inner peace and overall well-being. It means freeing yourself from societal beauty standards and focusing on your inner qualities and values. By shifting your perspective, you can promote self-acceptance and self-compassion, which leads to a deeper sense of contentment and harmony within yourself. Practising body neutrality encourages mindfulness, gratitude, and a positive body image, providing a foundation for inner peace to flourish. This empowering practice allows you to find happiness and peace in your body, regardless of external judgments or comparisons.