The power of body neutrality and how it can set you free
Personally, I am struggling with the body positivity movement. While I appreciate the effort to center marginalized bodies while emphasizing that all bodies deserve love and respect, I still feel like we are focusing too much on how we look. On the other hand, the rise of bodily neutrality resonates deeply. As someone who has struggled with body image, I like the idea of focusing on functionality and connectivity.
Like many, body image has been a big part of my journey. I played top level tennis for 15 years, resulting in a physique that garnered many compliments from my peers and competitors. When I got to UVA, injuries and life obstacles ensued, ultimately affecting my overall health, including my weight. I was no longer training six hours a day and my teenage years were quickly passing by. However, the high performing and radically fit body that I once had was clear in my mind. My new body – although beautiful – was not good sufficient.
I had to learn that my body will change from year to year, day to day. Moreover, I am not defined by his abilities, his health or his appearance. To go so far as to say: “I love my body!” feels exaggerated. I prefer to lead with deep appreciation and respect. I strive to practice non-judgment: can’t my body to be? Rather than focusing on what my body cannot do or what my body no longer looks like; I choose to be grateful for the function that my body has.
I sat in conversation with Claire Siegel, the founder of to bloom and the hostess of Nutritional Freedom Podcast to discuss this burgeoning social movement. To learn more about the power of neutrality, join us below.
PHOTO: Claire Siegel Feature, Riley Reed
What is the difference between body positivity and body neutrality?
Contrary to what we see on Instagram, body positivity is a form of activism, rooted in the fat acceptance movement 1960s and the creation of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. This movement spoke out against fatphobia and encouraged bodily love, regardless of body size.
Over time and with the advent of social media, body positivity has evolved and, many would say, watered down. Today, most see body positivity as a call to love your body for what it is. And although it is not inherently wrong and can certainly help people of all sizes struggling with body image, those in marginalized bodies Carry on to be marginalized in this version of body positivity. Women with smaller bodies are often praised for “bravely” posting pictures showing their cellulitis or upset stomach when seated. But a quick scroll through the comments section of a positive fat influencer will reveal countless fatphobic remarks.
While many modern interpretations of body positivity confuse it with positive body image, body neutrality focuses on celebrating and appreciating your body for what it can do, aside from how it looks.
I like to use a beach analogy. Many like to think of body positivity as showing off at the beach in bikinis, taking selfies, and feeling beautiful in all of its “flawed” glory. Body neutrality is going to the beach in whatever you feel good at, and enjoying the feeling of sand between your toes and the salty air on your skin.
What does the movement behind body neutrality look like?
Body neutrality is a much more recent movement, emerging online in 2015. One of its leaders, Anne Poirier, BS, CSCS, CIEC created body neutrality workshop, hosted at a wellness retreat in Vermont. Much like body positivity, the movement was propelled through social media by thought leaders like Jameela Jamil, Lauren Leavel, Tiffany Ima, Anna sweeneyand countless others.
How can we deal with bodily neutrality?
A good place to start with body neutrality is to ask yourself, “When do I have negative body thoughts most often?” For many of the women we work with to bloom, negative body speech often emerges while dressing or browsing social media. So we start there, devising strategies to help generate more neutral thoughts: clear your closet of clothes that don’t fit you anymore. Untracked accounts that don’t make you feel good.
With that, starting your journey to body neutrality will likely make you aware of how many negative body thoughts you have.
One of the common arguments against the current version of body positivity is that it’s a step too big for someone who is currently struggling with body image. So instead of going from “I hate my arms” to “I love every square inch of me,” why not try something more neutral? Maybe: “I have arms” or “this is what human arms look like.”
Research has shown that repeating positive affirmations that you don’t really believe can make you feel worse if you already have low self-esteem struggling.
How do you practice body neutrality?
For me, an easy starting point was gratitude. While I love my body much more today than in my decade of dieting, everyday isn’t a great body image day. But even when I don’t like my thighs, I am always grateful for what they allow me to live.
Where does the regime play a role in this regard?
If you feel like your brain and body are constantly fighting over food – micromanaging your intake, experiencing physical discomfort after eating, or living with regret over your food choices – it can be difficult to develop the condition. bodily neutrality.
Food should make you feel good. It has to nourish you both mentally and physically.
So skip short-lived diets, resets, or cleanings that don’t “knock you out” for weeks or days later. Instead, as we say to to bloom, learn to eat for the rest of your life.
What good mantras can we experience?
My appearance is the least interesting thing about me.
My body is my vehicle for living my life.
Thank you, body.