Why body neutrality can be the healthy headroom you never knew you needed

When you adopt a body-neutral mindset, you begin to appreciate your body’s amazing day-to-day accomplishments — and it feels really good.

<p>Drazen/Getty Images</p><p>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/eLDHJMAl_HPyqNSXlMRsfA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTEyNDI7aD04Mjg-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/aol_real_simple_articles_594/7d127d91584df7e1cc6e95cd9be48662″/><noscript><img alt=Drazen/Getty Images

” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/eLDHJMAl_HPyqNSXlMRsfA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTEyNDI7aD04Mjg-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/aol_real_simple_articles_594/7d127d91584df7e1cc6e95cd9be48662″ class=”caas-img”/>

Bon Allen recalls a time in her life when she didn’t look good on her body. Based on what it looked like to her and what she believed was said about her because of societal constructs, she says she didn’t have a good relationship with her body. It didn’t help that she was also going through infertility. One day she decided to change her thinking.

“Focusing on other qualities I have that make me a good person, as well as learning what my body could do, allowed me to build a better relationship with it and found it much easier to eat right and healthy. [fitness] training is part of my daily life,” she says.

Now an avid weightlifter, coach, and body neutrality expert, Allen passes on her wise words and body neutral messages through her Instagram page. But what exactly is body neutrality and how does it differ from body positivity, another mindset that has become even more popular in recent years?

If you like the idea of ​​taking the middle ground when it comes to appreciating your body, embracing the empowering stance of body neutrality could be a big step for you. Ahead, we’ll explore this concept, share body-neutral mantras, and discuss healthier ways to reframe negative self-talk and thoughts.

What is Body Neutrality?

Body neutrality first emerged as an expression in 2015, thanks in part to Anne Poirier, a certified intuitive eating consultant, eating disorder specialist, author, and founder of Shaping Perspectives. Poirier started using the term “body neutral” on social media and lately the concept is gaining even more popularity.

“Body neutrality is a mental attitude toward the body that essentially shifts the focus away from aesthetics and focuses more on functionality,” says Jenna DiLossi, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and body image expert at Minding Your Mind. For example, if someone is body neutral, says DiLossi, he wouldn’t pay much attention to the fat-to-muscle ratio of his legs, but might think about how much weight his legs can lift or how long his legs are for running speed.

“Body neutrality,” adds Allen, “recognizes that as humans we can sometimes feel positive about our bodies, and sometimes negative about our bodies, but ultimately, if we [shift] focus away from how we feel about our bodies and aesthetics [toward] what it can do, and the other qualities we possess as human beings, allow us to build a better relationship with our bodies and have better self-esteem and self-worth.

How is it different from body positivity?

Both terms refer to mindsets that focus on self-acceptance and self-esteem, but they do differ in meaning and approach.

While body neutrality usually removes the element of appearance and emphasizes functionality, body positivity is used in relation to appearance and beauty, and thus naturally represents a contrasting ideology, DiLossi explains. “Body neutrality is for body positivity, just like not thinking about your curves is for loving your curves,” she says. They are two different, but equally valid and well-intentioned ways to approach your relationship with your body.

Weight inclusion and representation – seen by clothing brands highlighting models in larger bodies and offering more size options, and in the success of body-positive celebrity icons such as Grammy-winning Lizzo and supermodel Ashley Graham, are hallmarks of body positivity.

Body positivity isn’t a bad thing at all – far from it – but for some people it can feel inauthentic or forced to love their body, show off their body and always feel beautiful. Some people disagree that a body-positive approach doesn’t always take into account the reality that sometimes they love their bodies, sometimes they’re neutral, and sometimes they just don’t — and that’s OK. (Meanwhile, others absolutely echo the view that everyone deserves to feel, look, and be considered beautiful,

“Body neutrality is that middle ground,” says Allen. “It is being able to recognize that all bodies are different, but also [deemphasizing] aesthetic features from which we derive positivity.”

What can body neutrality look and sound like?

On a personal note, Allen was able to shift from a negative view of her body (“I don’t like my body because it can’t carry a baby”) to more body-neutral thoughts such as, “I’m thrilled that my body helped me today do a deadlift.”

DiLossi also describes body neutrality more broadly as “a person who doesn’t talk too much about what their body looks like, but rather puts that energy into other domains.” For example, instead of trying to “fix” your cellulite or force yourself to love your cellulite, find a more neutral headspace: focus on what your legs can and will do for you. Train with a specific running speed (not your cellulite) in mind; remember how your legs carry you through a long day of walking, bending, lifting, and standing while volunteering with animals.

“One of the most powerful ways to change the way you think is to change your behavior, even if it doesn’t immediately feel natural,” says DiLossi. The first step is always to notice when you have those negative and appearance-oriented thoughts and feelings. Observe your thought, let it pass, and then compensate with a body-neutral thought. The more you practice deliberately shifting and replacing those thoughts and behaviors, the more automatic it will become.

Allen says gratitude is another big part of body neutrality: being thankful for what your body does can do instead of what it is can not doing. She believes this mindset change is “life-changing,” especially since many of us have been conditioned to believe that we will only be happy, successful, or worthy if and when we look a certain way, say a certain weight, shape, or size . “The reality is that we can be happy [starting] from the day we choose to look at it differently,” says Allen.

Useful body neutral mantras

When trying to reframe your thinking to be more body-neutral, it can be helpful to have a few mantras for motivation and inspiration. You can try repeating one of the following phrases from our experts on your body neutrality journey.

  • I have more value than just how I look.

  • How I feel about my body doesn’t mean I can’t do great things with it.

  • It’s okay if I think I don’t look good today, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel good or won’t feel better tomorrow.

  • My body is just my body. It’s just part of who I am.

Small ways to adopt a body neutral mindset

Instead of setting appearance-based “health” goals like “lose 15 pounds” or “finally schedule that facelift,” here are some slow, steady, and sustained body-neutral intentions to aim for, according to Allen and DiLossi.

  • Embrace fitness for its myriad benefits that aren’t based on looks. Set specific exercise goals that have nothing to do with appearance. Exercise to: make your heart beat faster; enjoy a purifying sweat; strengthen your core and support your spine; or de-stress and regulate your mood).

  • Notice and stop body checking. This means reducing behaviors such as frequently viewing and analyzing body parts in the mirror; grabbing or squeezing parts of your body; examining photos of yourself to find changes, flaws, and differences between your body and the bodies of others.

  • Be careful to reduce or remove comments, good or bad, about your own body and other people’s bodies. That goes for comments on photos of celebrities, strangers on the street, relatives around the holidays, and even friends you think look good. Can you find a way to compliment someone for something other than their looks? Can you catch yourself making self-deprecating jokes about how you look in a beach photo?

  • Place more value on non-cosmetic properties. Instead of using words like “skinny” or “fat,” “beautiful” or “unattractive,” focus on functional qualities such as strength, balance, energy, and resilience to appreciate your body’s natural and unique capabilities—or that is now deadlifting 120 pounds, growing and feeding a baby, or just carrying you through the world every day.

“There are so many ways we can focus on enjoying the world that aren’t based on what our bodies look like,” says Allen. As a result of her body-neutral mindset, her life has definitely become more vibrant and she is brimming with confidence. She shares from experience that this mindset can feel strange at first, but can eventually become second nature. Once your mind is opened to the concept, you won’t believe how deeply ingrained your beliefs, behaviors, and prejudices are around appearance and standards of beauty. (Remember, it took years, even decades for these thoughts to become ingrained, so it will take some time to unlearn them. Be patient!).

“Pushing yourself to do things [without thinking] about how you look like this will feel awkward at first,” she says, “but once you do it a few times and see how much you enjoy things, it gets easier and easier. It sounds like hocus-pocus, but quite honestly, when you gain the confidence to just be yourself, the world opens up and life becomes so much easier.

For more Real Simple news, sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Real Simple.

Why body neutrality can be the healthy headroom you never knew you needed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top