What is Body Neutrality?

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A lot of people have heard of body positivity, but maybe not the concept of body neutrality.

Not all of us can access body positivity because the shame-laden messages from our society can be so strongly ingrained, and our harsh inner critics can be hard to override. For some people, neutrality, rather than positivity, is a more realistic thing to work towards.

Recently within the community people have taken on a lot of aspirations around changing their bodies somehow (which is fine) but we’ve been inviting them to hold those aspirations lightly while keeping their focus on building a lifestyle driven by deeply held values, rather than a hyper-focus on body.

I like to think of body neutrality as working toward the idea that your body is the least interesting thing about you.

Body neutrality is not about disregarding the body and treating it poorly. It still supports healthy behaviors like eating your veggies, exercise, mindful eating, etc. It’s about shifting the focus away from a fixation on weight and body and toward building a lifestyle that you really like.

For me, that also means building a lifestyle that includes all foods, along with an awareness of how different foods impact how I feel. For example, I generally avoid eating a lot of sugar, but every once in a while I have no problem enjoying something sweet when it allows me to serve the moment. For example, participating in my nephew’s birthday the other day. That moment wasn’t about me or my body, it was about sharing a moment of connection and celebration with my nephew.

What would happen if you let go of your “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” and focused instead on building a lifestyle that you love? What is that life? What would your body look like after leading from that vision for a while? And is your body able to serve that life?

Instead of focusing on a particular size or weight, what if you focused on nurturing a body that serves the life you want?

We all have bad body image days. In those moments, I invite you to try on a lens of body neutrality, if body positivity isn’t available to you. Notice the thought spiral that arises and consciously let it go. Focus on what eating choices will feel good right now, today, and drop the rest of the story that your mind wants to make. Resist the urge to go into future thinking or past reminiscing when you’re in that negative mindspace. Try to stay grounded in the present. That’s where body neutrality becomes available. It gives us a self-compassionate lens that allows us to quiet our inner critic and call our attention to what we aspire to in this life.

What is your life outside of your struggle with food and body? What do you want it to be? What is important to you besides how your body looks? Do you have a purpose driven life otherwise? I invite you to reflect on that today.

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Until next week!

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