Body Neutrality – if Body Positivity is a step too far

 

If you are not in a good headspace about your body, sometimes the thoughts and actions for embracing body positivity are too exhausting, just that bit too far from the point you are at now. The thought of standing in front of a mirror and gazing into your eyes telling yourself you are beautiful is not something you can even think about, let alone find the energy or enthusiasm to do it multiple times a day.

 

One of the most challenging things as a woman is to unlearn all the negative body lessons we have been taught from an early age. So many women struggle with body image issues, low self-esteem, and feelings of not being good enough, which can lead them to further feelings of failure if they try body positivity and it is not right for them.

 

The first step is to undo all the negativity you have been feeling towards your body so it is important that you understand and embrace body neutrality – accepting your body – before you can move on and learn how to love yourself – body positivity.

 

“How you feel about your body right now is valid. We do not need to feel shame about not loving our bodies.” Jessi Haggerty

 

What is Body Neutrality?

 

Body neutrality is the concept of having neutral feelings towards your body. Not hating it and not loving it but accepting it and therefore being at peace with it. Body neutrality can mean you spend less energy on your relationship with your body and thinking about it takes up less headspace, leaving you free of invasive thoughts, giving you time back for the things that you enjoy.

 

How to begin to accept your body:

 

Focus on statements about what your body does for you, rather than how it looks.

Everybody, no matter how together they may seem on the outside, has insecurities. However, when you start to continually look at or think about your perceived flaws it becomes almost impossible to accept yourself as you are. Instead of focusing on thoughts that are destructive or overpowering, things you wish were different about yourself, set aside time every day to focus on and appreciate your strengths – whether it’s your intelligence, sense of humour, artistic ability, compassion for others, or any other quality that makes you who you are that is not body based.

 

Some examples of body neutral statements are:

 

  • I am more than my appearance
  • I nourish my body
  • My body allows me to enjoy…..
  • My body is strong
  • I am kind and compassionate
  • I am grateful to my body for……

 

Build Self-Compassion into Your Daily Routine

A key component of learning to accept yourself is practicing self-compassion. This means being kind and understanding towards yourself, even when you are having a difficult day. Rather than judging yourself for your perceived “failures,” remind yourself of the times that things went well. Think about what your body does for you, how it has helped you experience times in your life that you loved. Take a moment to thank your body for those experiences. If you write a journal, this is a good place to reflect. You could also set aside time in your week to do something you enjoy, like reading, listening to music, or taking a walk in the park. This will add to your positive experiences in your body and keep you feeling good.

 

Support from Friends and Family

Another vital part of learning to accept yourself includes having support from the people who care about you. This includes your spouse, parents, or friends. Talk to them about your relationship with your body and explain how they can help you. This might include not making comments or observations about your body or how you look, and focusing on your other attributes, helping you take the focus off your body. With this type of support, you will feel more empowered in your change of mindset.

 

Remember: You Are Enough!

Finally, remind yourself that you do not need anyone else’s validation or approval to accept your body. Your body has gotten you where you are, through good and bad days, and no matter what, it will be with you for your entire life. Try to appreciate your body for what it has done for you already, and what it will do for you in the future.

And finally…..

You are so much more than just what your body looks like.  To begin to repair your relationship with your body, you can try body neutrality – turning your negative thoughts and feelings into neutral ones. Once you have accepted your body then you can move onto body positivity if you feel that is right for you. The most important thing is to stop the negative thoughts and feelings towards your body from overtaking everything else so you can get on with life and the things you enjoy.