Body neutrality asserts your inherent right to exist no matter the shape, size or composition of your body.
There is a huge problem in modern society — body shaming. It does nothing to heal the traumas of our bodies and if anything, exacerbates and contributes to further disease and despair.
“One thing we can do is take it seriously, recognize that our bodies are ourselves in a visual and virtual culture, and we struggle with the increasing demands of beauty. If we take the demands seriously, it is easy to see why body shaming is serious. When you shame bodies you shame people. Body-shaming — whether fat shaming, a nasty comment about hair color or a body part — can make you ashamed, can stay with you, and make you insecure.”–Heather Widdows Ph.D.
The more you focus on what you can do and what makes you unique, the more you can do to inspire inner confidence. I call upon you to look inside and and take a moment to appreciate something special about yourself.
You don’t need to be a, “fitness person,” in order to accept and celebrate your body. The flip-side of shaming is over-idealizing, which is promoting something as better or more perfect than in reality.
It’s okay to accept your flaws as they are. If you are not completely happy with your body, that is okay and there is no need to overcompensate for that.
“I work with a lot of [people] who can’t relate to the idea of body positivity, it feels too far a reach for them. So, we talk about body neutrality, or some people call it ‘body respect’. It is: ‘I might not love every single patch of cellulite and belly roll, but I’m not going to punish myself.’”–Dr. Laura Thomas
Body Neutrality has stemmed as a reaction to Body Positivity’s lack of inclusivity.
The fundamental critiques of the Body Positivity movement:
- that being beautiful for others is even necessary,
- that you must love every single part of your body no matter what
- and that you should care about the validating gaze of others.
While I do believe there is beauty everywhere, I do not believe in forcing my abstractions of beauty onto others. In other words, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you do not need to behold me.
By posting revealing pictures of one’s own body, they are asking to be gazed upon and validated by others — and of course many people will gladly do so. Compliments on a person’s appearance flow easily by followers and the negative trolls can simply be blocked.
I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to receive praise for your beauty. It’s nice to be admired.
But does seeking external validation for one’s beauty truly inspire inner confidence and long lasting mental wellbeing?
Where does the word neutrality originate? Alternative meanings:
In researching the etymology of neutrality, it seems that there is an element of balance and an ability to become detached from fighting or aggression.
- Composed of contrasting elements which, in proper proportion, neutralize each other,
- Refraining from taking sides in a fight, not engaged on or interfering with either side
- One who takes no part in a contest between others, one who has a neutral opinion
Thus, the concept of neutrality lets us choose to not fight the battle within ourselves. Instead of taking sides, we can support ourselves through measures of balance, acceptance, and purpose.
Despite the fact that sometimes we choose to eat something that doesn’t nourish, we won’t beat ourselves up about it because we remain neutral.
Body neutrality is a body image movement that doesn’t focus on your appearance.
I want you discover and develop your own inner strength because it is something that matters to me personally.
There are so many amazing people who are suffering because they don’t believe that they fit into the societal standard of attractiveness, appearance, or status.
Do you think Jesus cared about such trivial matters? Buddha? Gandhi? Mother Teresa? Take any spiritual leader, healer or great person and you will see that they believed in a mission that was beyond themselves.
What are others saying about Body Neutrality?
“Body neutrality has emerged from this seeming void between self-criticism and self-love to offer another alternative – acceptance of our bodies as they are.”–Miranda Park
Miranda Park goes on to express how body image is but one facet of our own identity, that we have many qualities that make us who we are, and that you can free up time and energy by respecting your body instead of feeling pressured to love every inch of it.
Respect yourself. You truly are an incredible life form full of neurons, cells, minerals, ancient wisdom, eyes, hands and so much more. There really is a lot to appreciate about yourself.
“Body neutrality is a place to start to reverse the impact of internalizing the trauma of weight bias and stigma. Sometimes body positivity can feel ‘fake’ and body neutrality feels more authentic, which is so important when you are working on living authentically and joyfully in the body you have.”–Elizabeth Wassenaar, Medical Director of Eating Recovery Center
Authenticity is liberating. You are granted the freedom to express yourself as you are because you have accepted that what matters most is not the validation of others.
Would you rather be a mouse or a fish in the sea? How about a primitive earthworm?
I wouldn’t give up my humanity for anything, except maybe to experience the freedom of flight as a majestic eagle soaring over grand mountains and lakes. Even then, if I were an eagle, I would be envious of your human body, cellulite and all.
Tips on Practicing Body Neutrality:
Acknowledge the ways your body functions well by saying things like, “my arms are strong, “my legs can ride a bike for an hour,” or “my brain thinks very quickly.”
Acknowledge the ways your body doesn’t work well for you, and remove the emotional charge from those things by being matter of fact. For example, allowing yourself to acknowledge facts like “my knees don’t bend easily,” or “my body doesn’t fit comfortably into restaurant chairs,” can help you to accept those things as a part of your life, without trying to hide them or feel ashamed.
–Ariane Resnick, CNC
Perform self-love activities only when it actually feels uplifting, and not when it feels like effort or untrue.
It should become clear now that body neutrality is a practice and also a mindset. Helping yourself realize the value of your own body, flaws and everything, can also help you judge others less harshly.
All normal people have insecurities as it is just part of the human experience. By being a person who is interested in healing your own trauma, something magical happens in that you help others with their own trauma due to the healing vibration of your energy.
I don’t know what matters most to you because that is incredibly individualized, but I can imagine that you have had moments of awareness that reveal something special about this universe. I hope you can become in tune with your inner guide, face your fears, and do what you need to do in this life.
Focus on the big picture.
By taking a step back and examining our decisions without shaming ourselves, we can gain a more valuable perspective that allows us to better inform our future decisions.
Furthermore, the inherent focus on, “what your body can do,” vs. “what your body looks like,” is truly empowering because as long as you have a mind, then you are a powerful being.
If you have two legs, two arms, and can walk upright, then you are extremely powerful in this universe and you should not take that for granted.
Even if you are disabled, you will gain much more value from focusing on what you can do instead of what others can do.
Words of encouragement: Be mindful of your input and honor your output.
Just be mindful about the images and media that you consume. Be mindful of the type and quality of nutrients that you consume.
Most of all, honor your work, your labor, your creative output, and absolutely honor your mindful movement and physical expression.
Thank you for reading this article.
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