Tuesday, 19 September 2017

why i support body neutrality

(originally published on babe)

Loving yourself can be hard. We are all constantly learning how to love ourselves and our bodies and the widespread body positivity movement preaches the nth degree of that journey – unconditional self-love. It’s a lovely message, but it is not always possible. Everyone has bad days, days where we feel ugly, or when we look in the mirror and think unkind things about our bodies.




Body positivity may have come from a place of goodness, but in reality it puts a huge amount of pressure on us to love our bodies and at times, it can feel as though it is trying to guilt us for not loving our body 24/7. For people who suffer from body dysmorphia and the eating disorders that can come along with it, it is difficult to always love your body. Body neutrality can be a stepping stone to body positivity – and sometimes that neutrality itself is enough.
Loving your body still assumes that you should spend a lot of time thinking about your body, particularly in relation to what it looks like. The media scrutinises women’s bodies so much. Why should we have to scrutinise our own? They’re just bodies. There is no need to love or hate your body. How about being neutral towards it instead? The purpose of our body is to protect our organs and keep us alive. Your body is not a machine, nor is it a temple. It is a body. Appreciate it and nourish it. Don’t let it limit you.



Love what your body can do. It can keep you alive. It can run. It can feel. The basis of body neutrality is that we should not care what it looks like. Of course, this is easier said than done. Not caring what your body looks like is just as difficult as loving it for many.
Body neutrality is a form of self-care. It is about recognising that there will be days when you don’t love your body, but instead of viewing that as a negative that leads you into a spiral of self-hate, acknowledge how you are feeling and just let it go. Young women are constantly objectified. Recognise that you are so much more than your body.


Body neutrality doesn’t make for such cute Instagram posts, but it is just as important as the body posi movement. If body neutrality was turned into an image, it would be you just living your life; drinking at parties, eating pizza with friends and not thinking about your body.
Thin women do not face the same discrimination that larger women face. However, the body positivity movement often excludes them. This can be particularly damaging to women with eating disorders, when it is especially hard to love your body.
The most useful thing about the body positivity movement is how it calls out unfair representation of women’s bodies. Now, however, the same companies that have been called out are trying to reappropriate the movement for profit. Remember Zara’s “Love your curves” poster?The body positivity movement has become so mainstream and commodified that, in many ways, it has lost its true meaning.



It has become focused on cis white women, many of whom fit society’s beauty standards already. We cannot let the companies that the movement was started in order to combat sell us a whitewashed, thin version of body positivity. It is time to start a new movement, focused on moving away from the scrutiny of women’s bodies.
Body positivity subscribes to an individualism that can be harmful to a movement. Individual self-esteem is important, but that alone does not change society. Women of all sizes need to unite against society’s obsession with criticising women’s bodies and trying to fit us into a narrow confine of conventional beauty standards.
Of course there are issues with body neutrality as well. In theory, it is a wonderful idea, but as long as people still feel the need to comment on women’s bodies, be it via Instagram comments or the Daily Mail, we cannot completely escape this obsession with body shape. When someone is actually telling you that you are too fat or too thin, it is incredibly difficult not to take it to heart.
From a body neutrality perspective, the best way to respond to comments about your body is to just keep on living your life and show that you can be awesome no matter what your body looks like.

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