If you have spent any number of minutes online, watching TV or even walking around a shopping center, you’re likely to have encountered multiple images, advertisements and posts showcasing flawless humans.
Whether they have perfect eyebrows, skin or bodies, this ideal image of a perfect human form is being constantly shoved into the forefront of our attention. This can lead to many negative feelings, not limited to dissatisfaction, or even hate, for our own bodies.
Even though we might not want it, a lot of internalizing occurs when we constantly see images like this. The voices in our heads get real loud with thoughts like, “Should I have skin that perfect?” “Do I need to lose weight to adjust to the new fashions?” “Is there something actually wrong with the way I look?”
Over time, a number of vocal activists have loudly announced no, there’s nothing wrong with not having the perfect body. This turned into a certain movement known as body positivity, which in more recent years has given rise instead to body neutrality.
The mindset of body positivity began a number of years ago, but more recently took the world by storm as the internet gave rise to both body shaming and body praising. A safe wall behind which to hide, social media, sadly allowed people to attack the bodies of others without suffering many consequences.
The result was a number of people claiming positivity and embracing the belief that their bodies, all bodies, are beautiful no matter what shape, size or color.
While this is undeniably true, two concerns arose from mentality. The first one being a seemingly lack of concern for the truth that there is such a thing as an unhealthy versus healthy weight. Healthy weight does not mean skinny, nor does it mean fat. There are health complications with being both underweight and overweight, and body positivity failed to acknowledge this.
The second concern was the attention given to one’s appearance. No matter what, body positivity is all about being positive about our bodies, no matter if we have acne, stretch marks, cellulite, etc. The fact of the matter is we’re human, we have bad days and no matter how many times we repeat “I’m beautiful” to ourselves in the mirror, sometimes we just can’t get ourselves to believe it.
This can lead to a deep sense of guilt; if we’re not always, everyday, embracing body positivity, how can we claim to love our bodies no matter what? Body positivity can, in a sense, punish us indirectly if we have an off day.
So where’s the middle ground?
“I believe body neutrality has changed the conversations we are having with ourselves. It helps to emphasize the importance of valuing yourself as more than just your appearance. Learning to focus on accepting yourself as a whole person, is where the magic is.” – Vikki Krinsky, founder of VK Energy Bars
The flaws with the body positive mindset have given way to body neutrality, which focuses much less on physical appearance and instead pays attention to the fact that the body simply is.
With body positivity, it’s all about loving your body, flaws included.
With body neutrality, it’s being grateful for the fact that your body exists and is an amazing vessel allowing you to live life to its fullest. This allows you, on the days when you feel dissatisfied or off, to still remain grateful. After all, without your body, you wouldn’t be able to attend yoga, go on a run to clear your head or make dinner for your family.
Body positivity vs. body neutrality
For some people, the jump from being unhappy with their body to suddenly claiming body positivity and announcing “I love my body” at all times is too much, and can make them feel like a fake. While “fake it til you make it” works for some people, for others who’ve battled mental health conditions like anxiety, depression and eating disorders, it can be much harder.
This is where body neutrality finds a place in the lives of many. Emotions have no place in body neutrality, as neutrality isn’t about passing judgment. In fact, neutrality is closely related to mindfulness, a practice focused on taking things as they come without passing judgment or analyzing the event.
When you strive for body neutrality, you seek to view your body less for what it looks like, and more for what it does. For many, this helps them move to a mindful place of freedom – because if you’re not focused on your appearance, you free up all sorts of space in your mind to focus on other, healthier and more productive thoughts.
Want to learn more about body neutrality?
Changing your perspective on your body, especially if they’re beliefs you have internalized for a long time, can be a difficult task no matter how badly you desire it. However, you’re not alone. In such a body toxic culture, many people find themselves lost and confused when it comes to body positivity, neutrality and determining the best mindset to adopt for their lives.
If you seek freedom from the constant thoughts of your body image, you might consider speaking with a counselor who can offer you concrete skills in adjusting your mindset and cultivating a safer mental space where you can begin to adopt new body neutral thoughts.
To speak with someone today, contact Pyramid Online Counseling anytime by calling 833-525-3077.