The middle-of-the-road approach towards accepting and respecting your appearance
Body image is a perception of our physical self. As a society, we tend to form these perceptions based on what we see around us, or on our mobile phones in the current world of social media. This can often appear as a form of positive or negative thoughts. But what if we had the option to stop these negative and positive perceptions of the human body?
What is Body Neutrality?
Body neutrality is the intermediate approach between body positivity and body negativity. It is neither loving nor hating your body – it is about respecting and accepting your appearance with no judgement. When scrolling through the world of social media perfection, most of us start to see imperfections and experience negative thoughts. Our hair is not as straight, our legs are not as long, our clothes do not fit as well, our nails are not as long, and the list continues…
According to a Florida House Experience Health study, 88% of women and 65% of men compare their bodies to images they see in the media. In addition, 51% of women compare their bodies unfavourably with media images, and 37% of men say the same. On the other end of the spectrum, the concept of being one hundred percent positive about our image can be exhausting. In fact, some of us find loving our bodies impossible. Body neutrality, however, lets you find peace of mind.
Origin of The Movement
The term “body neutrality” gained in popularity online around 2015. A certified intuitive eating counsellor and eating disorder specialist, Anne Poirier, defined body neutrality as:
“Prioritising the body’s function and what it can do rather than its appearance.”
Poirier is a firm believer that we can feel neutral about our bodies. In addition, she states:
“The approach acknowledges that your body is only one part of who you are – not the totality. It also shouldn’t dominate how you feel about yourself.”
The main idea behind body neutrality movement is to start thinking that we are more than just a body, and that we should be grateful for the opportunities which arise thanks to the human body. In addition, this movement allows us to recognise the value and importance of our physical being rather than focusing on the physical aspect of our appearance; which is mostly outside of our control due to genetics.
The Positive Impact of Body Neutrality
What are the positive impacts of adhering to a body neutrality approach? Well… There are many of them. Most importantly, adhering to this approach allows us to appreciate and accept our body image as it naturally comes. The aim is to focus on the non-physical characteristics instead of concentrating on its looks. An example of a body neutrality statement can be as follows: “I am grateful to my arms for helping me lift heavy weights.” As you can see, this approach can help you practise gratitude and help individuals who find body positivity too big of a step on the journey of accepting themselves. Some other benefits of practising body neutrality can be:
Examples of Practicing Body Neutrality
We can all practice body neutrality in our own way. However, here are some examples which can help you start and gain inspiration:
Firstly, drop the body image talks and, most importantly, your own thoughts. If you feel uncomfortable hearing body image conversations, change the subject to how you, or the person you are speaking to feels.
Secondly, eat the foods that you want to eat. Choose meals that provide nourishment to your body and those you enjoy – balance is the key.
Thirdly, understand the importance of physical movement for your body. Do not punish yourself by attending the gym to lose weight. Instead, think of ways that allow you to move your body in a way that makes you happy and healthy simultaneously.
Finally, wear comfortable clothes! Rather than beating yourself up for failing to squeeze in clothes which you purchased two years ago, select those which you feel comfortable in.