CW: This article discusses topics of body shapes and sizes and effects which could be distressing to some readers
We all seem to be generally obsessed with the shape of our body, and we often forget that having inner peace is what makes our body function and adhere to what it can do, instead of its appearance.
We tend to put too much pressure on our body because we feel that, for us to keep fit and improve our body image, we have to go to the gym 5-6 times a week, starve ourselves of food we love by limiting our portions, or most times avoiding them. Other things we subject our bodies to as women are wearing waist trainers and/or body shapers excessively, sometimes every day, wearing body-hugging clothes and so on. It is very difficult to find someone who loves their body as it is. Some of us seem to have about one, two, three or everything about our body that we do not like. The result of such feelings is sometimes very detrimental and as such affects our mental health, and self-esteem and majority of us end up with conditions such as eating disorders, body dysmorphia, undergoing unnecessary surgeries and so much more.
Labelling and bias
Within our society and culture today, women’s bodies are objectified and there are weight biases around every corner. Women who live in larger bodies are labelled with certain undesirable traits and characteristics and are thought of as unhealthy, lazy, and undisciplined.
Everyone forgets that we are all created individually, uniquely and of different body shapes. The fact that someone is of the larger body, does not mean that they overeat, don't exercise, or are lazy. Have we ever given it a thought, that there is the possibility that they can be healthier and fitter than someone with a slimmer body?
Why is body neutrality important?
It helps us discharge some of the feelings that we have about our figure. It also allows you to dig deep and ask questions about how you came to take on and believe the unrealistic ideals. In short, it gives us a break from continually listening to that negative inner voice.
How body neutrality can bring about inner peace
Body neutral is the ability to think positively, change one’s mindset, and habits, develop peace with(in) your body and practice self-love. The effect of social media and societal pressure has indeed contributed significantly to the way we view our bodies. You see we did not create ourselves but we can love our bodies by taking good care of it and pampering it, just as we take absolute care of our 'designer handbags', 'gold', and other items we hold so dear to our hearts. We all have different bodies and each one of us uniquely created. We have to value our body for the various functions it performs. As women we must learn how to practice body neutrality because our body has endured a lot - pregnancy, hormonal changes, changes in our body built as we get older and a lot more. Being positive, and loving ourselves and our bodies should be paramount to us, so we MUST respect them and love them irrespective of what people say.
How to start practising body neutrality:
Wear comfortable clothes
Stop berating yourself when you cannot fit into that evening wear and stop punishing your body by wearing girdle just to look good. Also stop hiding your body by wearing baggy or oversized tops, just look for something you can wear and feel comfortable in.
Change your mind-set
Re-frame from body hating thoughts and stand in front of the mirror and say to yourself, 'I am beautifully and wonderfully made', Learn to focus on those good things your body can do for you, think positively of how lovely your skin is and appreciate your body. Learn to stop focusing on others’ appearances or results but rather compliment them, this makes you feel good.
Re-frame why exercise is important to you
Feel free to do exercises that you enjoy, makes you feel good and gives you energy. Instead on focusing on how many calories or pounds you are going to lose, think about the feel-good factor you are getting from the exercise, i.e. taking your mind off pressures from work, or helps lift your mood.
Respect what goes into your body
Don't deny your body of food, eat food that you like and that will nourish it. Also, remember do not deny yourself dessert or snacks, you only need to eat these in moderation.