Body Neutrality > Body PositivitySep 15, 2021
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Why Body Neutrality Is Much Healthier for Your Mental Health Than Body Positivity
Body Positivity: we all have heard of it, and in principle, it is a great concept. Having a positive outlook on your body and self boosts your confidence and helps raise your sense of self-worth. But let’s consider, has the body positivity movement gone beyond its original intention and become more harmful than helpful?
Very Well Mind says body positivity refers to the assertion that all people deserve to have a positive body image, regardless of how society and popular culture view ideal shape, size, and appearance. Fundamentally, this definition encapsulates the original heart of the movement. However, a constant, unending pursuit of positivity is draining and unrealistic. There will be days where we look in the mirror and wish that a certain part of our body was a certain way, or a moment where we get pulled in by societal ideals despite constant reassurance of body positivity.
In a society where the status quo is not accepting of all bodies, being positive about any body is not as easy as looking in the mirror and complimenting yourselves. Societal standards have a long lasting impact on our self-image. And there will be days that we wish our body looked different. That’s an inevitable part of living in a society where so much attention is put on physical “ideals”. Practicing self-love can frankly be exhausting. Self-love mantras, hyper positivity, and constant self-validation implies that you have to train yourself to love your body. It implies that there is something inherently wrong. Here’s where body neutrality comes in.
What is body neutrality?
Body neutrality recognizes that your body isn’t inherently built for the purpose of looking a certain way, but to function, keep you alive, and sustain you. Your body is simply a vessel for you, and it doesn’t dictate who you are or can be. Instead of looking in the mirror every morning and forcing yourself to be positive, even when you aren’t feeling it, you can appreciate your body for what it does for you: it fuels you, gets you places, allows you to do what you want to do, and express yourself.
Your body is an ongoing project with yourself and your mind. It will never be perfect because our definition of perfection is constantly changing. So instead of forcing yourself to be positive when you’re not feeling it, recognize that it’s okay to be indifferent about your body some days as long as you appreciate all that it does for you. Don’t boil your body down to it’s external appearance.
When you start to acknowledge that your body is more than what meets the eye, you start to stop holding it to the same expectations as before. Gradually, perfection fades in the distance and appreciation emerges, which leads to a much healthier, stable relationship that connects both your mind and body, allowing yourself to be full in your persona and be who you want to be.
Body neutrality also acknowledges that you don’t need to train yourself to love your body’s appearance, and it’s far less strenuous and tiring. Put best, it’s the art of not giving a f*ck, and allowing yourself to live in your body without having to convince yourself it’s beautiful.
After practicing body neutrality for a year, I’ve automatically begun loving myself without having to force it. I love my body despite the parts of it I used to hate. I feel more honest and in-tune with myself, and my connection between my mind and body has truly improved. Body neutrality could be for you, so start small by complimenting your body on aspects other than it’s external appearance. Here are some to start:
- Thank you for energizing me so I can pursue my passions.
- Thank you for allowing me to embrace those I love.
- Thank you for giving me the ability to enjoy food and experience the world around me.
With this shift in your mindset, you’ll begin your journey to have a healthier relationship with your mind and body.
Special thanks to guest contributor Riya Cyriac founder of The Young Writers Initiative.
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