So after a few drinks with some girlfriends over the weekend we got onto the topic of our bodies and our body image. We started talking about how we can look at others and appreciate how beautiful they are but when it comes to our own bodies somedays we can just not like a single thing no matter how many times someone tells us we should which really got me thinking.
Here is a really interesting article about a counter movement to body positivity called body neutrality. I like this idea because it takes the focus away from our appearance and that we should appreciate what our bodies can do rather than how it looks. When you think about all the different biological things that go on in our body everyday and the things we are capable of it’s really amazing! I like to think of exercise and working out as something good I am doing for my body and because I appreciate the many benefits of working out not something I ‘have’ to do to look a certain way. This can be anything though like just going for a walk or riding a bike, anything you find enjoyable that gets your body moving.
I’d love to know what you guys think about this topic! What’s your take on body neutrality? Do you think body neutrality is sending a good message? Do you think it may be a more positive movement than ‘body positivity’?
Never heard of it before now – but LOVE IT!
I’m very much ‘over’ body positivity, especially because it’s become so ingrained in marketing. It’s in food ads, on clothing, all over instagram – I’m tuned out to it, and really tired of hearing that I’m a ‘goddess’ all the time, to be honest.
Sometime I’ll eat a stack and feel great about my body, other times I’ll eat next to nothing and feel less kind towards it. It fluctuates. I think body neutrality factors that in a bit more.
While we shouldn’t prioritise one body type over the other, I don’t think we need to demonise feeling unhappy with our bodies, as long as it’s not your permanent view.
I don’t think anyone should feel guilty that they’re not 100% happy with their body all the time. I feel like with the constant stream of body positive messages, it could leave some room for guilt if you’re not 100% positive, 100% of the time.
@aunt_flo yeah I agree! We don’t need added guilt if we are already not feeling 100% happy with ourselves. I think it’s normal to have good and bad days when it comes to how we view ourselves and like you said as long as it’t not your permanent view.
Wow thanks so much for starting this discussion @goldenrose, I’d never heard of the concept of body neutrality before, this article you shared was a really interesting read.
@aunt_flo your point about potentially being made to feel guilty about sometimes not being 100% body positive totally resonates with me. The amount of times I’m scrolling through my insta feed overwhelmed by body-positive messages but end up feeling even more crap. I think it’s because the focus on image just doesn’t really work for me?
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s awesome that many people have found find self confidence and satisfaction through the body positive movement, and I’m supportive if it works for them and strives to be inclusive of all types of bodies.
But when I’m going through a phase where I’m not able to love the way I look, that doesn’t really leave much room for me to be accepted, and I’ve found it isolating sometimes when I feel there’s an expectation on me to be proud of my appearance which I can’t fulfil, even among friends.
What does work for me though is focusing on non beauty-related reasons I value my body. It sounds like thats partly what body neutrality is about. Something I’ve done in the past during a tough time was a sort of visualisation meditation. I would spend time focusing on each part of my body and thinking about all the reasons I was grateful for it, even the most simple reasons. For instance, my lungs for allowing me to breathe in air to oxygenate my body, my skin for allowing me to sense the lovely breeze and warm sun, my arms and hands for allowing me to touch and hug people to give affection. It could be anything depending on the person and what’s important to them. And while I have a disability which affects me cognitively, I still had things to be thankful to my brain for, which felt good given at other times I can get really frustrated with my brain. Might sound silly but it really helped me appreciate my body!
I really like the idea of body neutrality and how it shifts the focus away from appearance. However, I feel like it is so much harder to appreciate something that isn’t too visible like our body processes. Also Im so normalised to those things that our body does that I kind of take it for granted.
I think there has to be a place for both body neutrality and positively. Not just one or the other. An appreciation for what your body does is important but being happy with yourself and your appearance builds confidence which in my opinion is equally as important.
@catdog yeah I definitely agree that there has to be a place for both! And I can see what you mean by it being much harder to appreciate something that isn’t too visible and taking it for granted sometimes, like sometimes when I’m tired and I have to walk somewhere and complain to myself but I really should be grateful that I have the ability to walk I guess.
@aphrodite9 That’s good that it’s made you appreciate your body more! That visualisation technique is a good idea too!
@goldenrose Yeah bodies are so freaking cool!! Getting into climbing definitely made me appreciate the human body a lot more – it’s so amazing what kinds of positions we can get into! (and so diverse haha)!
@aphrodite9 visual meditation is sooo good, actually, I’m a huge fan of any meditation. I’m so glad you found something that works for you!
That’s such a cool thought, and I TOTALLY agree @aunt_flo that I think the whole body-pos movement has very much become co-opted by brands as a sales tool, which feels very disingenuous and actually kinda toxic (I feel like ‘self care’ has gone the same way TY ‘influencers’).
I really like how as an ideology is has a lot more room to forgive yourself for not loving yourself all the time – because I think most of us are kidding ourselves if we say we truly do. I love the way it frames focusing on what your body can do for you, but my only concern would be that I think an inherent focus on function over form could quite quickly become ableist? I think though this only becomes a real problem if a kinda of blanket approach is adopted to what constitutes good function, rather than good function for a particular person, their needs and their circumstances.