Body Neutrality: The Movement Beyond Acceptance
The mainstream pressure of the #bodypostive movement can be a tad overwhelming. This type of black and white thinking feeds my disordered thoughts occasionally. One day I'm starring into the mirror #feelinmyself the next I'm wondering what I can change to be a version of myself that I feel positive about. I'm not sure that I can love my body every day and I think that is okay. I'm not fond of the thought that if we are not body positive we must not love ourselves. As if our bodies are the center of attention, the root of our self-worth. This creates a high standard of self-acceptance and forces us to comprise our emotions when we might just not be all the way there with our self-esteem.
Photo by Caique Silva on Unsplash
Well, somedays I am simply not feeling it. Somedays I am just at the point of acceptance. Somedays I am at #bodyneutrality. Body neutrality doesn't mean you can't love your body, it just relieves you from the pressure of having to. Instead of focusing on the image in the mirror, it allows me to connect with how my body makes me feel. By building a stronger connection with myself and how I feel during a yoga class, an aerial practice, or even when I laugh allows me to focus on how my body is functioning, instead of how I look. By paying attention to my body's release of expression instead of its physical appearance I create a better understanding and appreciation for it. This creates a better relationship internally. I do this to heal the damage of negative self-talk that has destroyed my self-esteem. I hate going to classes and looking at my neighbor to see if my body looks like theirs in a pose. Or focusing on if I am losing any weight, gaining muscle, measuring my self-worth to how my body is changing. Why does anything have to be related to the body at all?
I may not love my birthmark or my thighs, and I don't think I ever will, but I appreciate my hands and arms, how they hold me up during a handstand and how I feel when I complete a challenging move in a trapeze class. How my mind works when I solve a complicated problem or how I treat my friends and family. The way I bake cookies and burn key lime pie because even being from Florida I still don't understand that recipe.
Those are the moments I cherish and get excited about. So why try and force myself to feel body positive all the time? Why can't we be life positive? And body neutral?
Body neutrality needs to be talked about. Simply connecting more with how we feel and less than what we see when we look in the mirror. How we nourish ourselves, where we get our strength and how we show gratitude. Finding the appreciation and beauty inside of us and valuing to build a relationship that goes further than our bodies. Because our worth is more than just a mirror image.
Somedays the goal can simply be body neutrality. Somedays I just want to love myself for how I feel, not for how I look. Measuring beauty in terms of the calluses on my hands, or the breathwork I do in yoga classes, not my appearance.
But hey, I definitely don't have it all figured out. Maybe it's a blend of both. Those moments when we look into the mirror and have that thought "damn I look good", and really feel that moment of body positivity, there is no shame in that- just like there is no shame in not feeling that.
But I do believe that the less we worry about what we see in the mirror and the more we pay attention to how we feel when we do the things we love- we connect more with ourselves.
I cherish a life where I focus less on my body. I want to live with it, appreciate the way it carries me and be seen beyond it.