By: Jennah Owda
Body positivity has been the topic of conversation for quite some time now. Learning to love your body has become an obsession for most. When we are unable to achieve that mindset, negative thoughts begin to take over, ruining the goal of body positivity. Lots of time has been spent thinking about our bodies this past year, and to be honest, it has been the most mentally draining and consuming thought process.
While I am grateful for the inclusivity and the semi-realistic body images set in 2021, the focus on how my physique looked rather than felt led to me body-checking more than ever. After dissecting the popular mantra that all bodies are beautiful, which they are, I realized that all it did was make me feel bad for not feeling body positive.
Generally, when discussing the perception of our bodies, two main points surround those who either love their body or hate their body, leaving us thinking that those are the only two ways we can view ourselves. What is usually never addressed is body neutrality. For those struggling to embrace your body, learning to feel neutral about your physique is one way to become more comfortable with yourself.
The question you may be wondering now is, what’s the difference between body neutrality and body positivity? For starters, as mentioned above, body positivity is an appearance-focused concept. An example of this would be famous influencers posting how their body looks post-meal and comparing it to how their body looks before eating throughout the day. While it was refreshing to see, it led to obsessive body-checking, the act of judging the shape of your physique, becoming a trend on multiple platforms, which contributed to many eating disorders. While body positivity focuses on the appearance of your body, body neutrality focuses on the well-being of your body. This means learning to be appreciative of what your body is capable of doing rather than how it is capable of looking. This also means feeling neutral about hip dips, stretch marks, and cellulite. Contrary to body positivity, you don’t have to love every part of your body, and you don’t have to hate every part either. You can simply feel neutral about the way you look.
How does one become body neutral?
The concept of having neutral feelings towards your physique is confusing at first. This does not mean you cannot like the way your body looks. Instead, developing a sense of neutrality helps prevent unhealthy habits created to reach our desired look and helps relieve the pressure of beauty standards. If you are still unsure how to include body neutrality into your life, here are some tips.
No More Body-Checking
After checking my phone, one of the first things I found myself doing in the morning was comparing how my body looked before eating. The obsession I had with my morning skinny look and the body positive feelings that would come with it made me want to delay meals and eat less to preserve my “morning skinny” body. If you find yourself also doing this, a good replacement I found was comparing how much better my workouts became after eating a fulfilling meal compared to when I would do fasted workouts. Because I was eating a well-balanced lunch and breakfast, I could lift heavier at the gym and break personal records.
Working Out to Feel Good
Before learning that it’s normal for our bodies to change, especially in our twenties, my time at the gym as a form of punishment rather than a place to relieve stress. With becoming comfortable in my own body and letting go of societal pressure, my time at the gym transformed into a place where I can appreciate what my body is capable of doing. Instead of spending an hour doing intense cardio, I found a sense of accomplishment through weight training.
With having a bit more free time during the semester, I would spend my time on social media. I quickly realized the effect that the creators I followed had on me. It’s important to follow influencers that are credible and realistic. My favorite creator that helped me achieve body neutrality is Stephanie Buttermore. Not only does she have a Ph.D. in nutrition, but she also blogged about her journey towards body neutrality.