Consider body neutrality and give yourself a reasonable break on the way to self-love. Or perhaps, it’s a final resting place where you can simply accept, remove judgment, and, most importantly, move on to focus on other things.
Body positivity is a social media-based movement that calls on followers to work toward self-love by embracing perceived flaws and adapting a positive and loving view of one’s body and appearance overall. Body neutrality supporters, on the other hand, believe that striving for positive feelings about one’s body shape/weight may be unrealistic and investing effort in trying to “fall in love” with your body may be counterproductive. With body neutrality, you don’t have to jump from extreme body hatred to full on body love/positivity. Rather, there may be a middle path where you can be free of hateful, destructive thoughts, yet still not fully embrace your body as “beautiful.”
Want to give it a try? Check out our five simple ways to practice body neutrality each day.
1) Change The Conversation
- With yourself: Remove the harsh judgments. If you do catch yourself in a judgment (that’s okay— we’re all human) forgive yourself, and try to rephrase your self-talk by using more neutral terms and observations. For example, instead of “my thighs look big in these jeans” try “my thighs are larger than my calves” or “I see curves, muscles and strength.” Let’s call this neutral talk.
- With friends and family: Shift the focus of conversations away from the body, shape, weight, calories. If possible, surround yourself with people who focus on life beyond appearance-related factors. Inform your friends about body neutrality and how they can respect your stance by avoiding body-based conversations.
- On social media: Choose your influencers and sources wisely. Consider moving away from sources that focus on body, clothing and physical beauty. Choose to read publications that don’t trigger body-related thoughts, comparison-making, self-loathing; rather, immerse yourself in material that transports you away from your external self and feeds/fuels all the other parts of you.
2) Change How You Approach Food
- Choose food based on how you feel rather than how you think you should eat. This means considering what you really want. Of course, you can balance cravings/needs/desires with your knowledge of what foods will truly nourish your body and make you feel strong and healthy. But the key here is that you’re not eating (or restricting) with the intention of manipulating your weight.
- Focus on eating when hungry and stopping when full.
- Take a mindful approach to eating. Take a moment during your meal to savor the flavors, textures, and consistency of your food.
3) Change How You Dress
- Choose clothing based on comfort level, proper fit, and appropriateness for your activity or event.
- Choose clothes that contain fabrics, colors and styling that you find appealing, regardless of how they conform to your body.
4) Change How You Use A Mirror
- Use a mirror only when necessary (e.g., to check if you have a piece of food in your teeth before that work meeting) but not to judge.
5) Change The Way You Exercise
- Engage in an activity that you truly enjoy (e.g., a walk in the park or maybe a hike with your dog)
- Try not to judge the quality of your exercise based upon the calories it burns, but whether it makes you feel good.
- Listen to your body and skip days if you just don’t feel up to it.
By following this five-step guide, you are practicing body neutrality.
Each and every day is another opportunity to approach your life and your body with less judgment and more acceptance, but even more importantly, each day is an opportunity to move on to other parts of yourself and your life that are far more important that your pants size. So consider carving out more time for friendships and meet ups, more walks in the park instead of nights at the gym. Doing so means you will be spending less of your precious time focusing on the physical body.
From here, you can continue on to body love/”body positivity” – or just give yourself a break and rest comfortably with a neutral stance!
To learn more about New York City’s leading Eating Disorder Center, Columbus Park, click here!