I first heard the term ‘body neutrality’ the other day while watching a segment on TV where the hosts mentioned how Jameela Jamil referred to this (‘body neutrality) as her take on body image.
Most of us are aware of the body positivity movement either via books, news, or social media posts with the hashtag #bodypositivity. Many of these posts are raw and real images of the female body (I’ve typically seen an overwhelmingly female presence in this movement).
Usually these images depict traditionally ‘unflattering angles’ or show stretch marks, or they’re simply reflecting a happy place that a woman has reached where she is embracing her body and not trying to change it to fit societal ideals.
Body neutrality, on the other hand, encourages people not to focus on body image and simply take a neutral stance.
A few years ago, I posted a picture of myself in a sports bra with athletic leggings where I hash tagged #bodypositivity on my now defunct instagram platform and received a comment that I was not expecting.
This Instagram user, who I did not know, commented on my picture and basically told me that the body positivity was not for me.
She said that I shouldn’t use that hashtag and talk about body positivity because I was ‘fit’ and I was not a part of the marginalized group of women within society who feel connected to this movement.
The user was insulting the movement and telling me I should not associate myself with it. That is the best way I can describe this comment.
I was confused by this and thought, surely that defeats the purpose of a movement specifically formed around inclusivity of all shapes and sizes.
In this way, body positivity in my mind, still had me focused on where I stood on a spectrum of weight or size and how I ‘fit in’ with this new and seemingly empowering movement.
Flash forward to recently when I heard the term body neutrality described by the ladies on The Real as it had been expressed by Jameela Jamil.
At first, I thought hmm… why neutrality and not positivity?
But when I considered how since deleting social media 6 months ago I have been far less image-focused in general and have had so much more time to focus on developing my career, hobbies, relationships, and passions…it clicked.
I actually, recently caught a glimpse of my physique in the gym bathroom mirror and thought cheekily: It is, in fact, possible to have abdominal definition and not have to prove it by posting ab snapshots from every angle on social media.
This is purely ME poking fun at MYSELF.
This whole, yes people can still have muscles and fit physiques even if they don’t post photographs of it to the internet reminded me of the debate: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still fall?
You tell me.
Some people genuinely enjoy giving the world updates on their physiques, hair cuts, or whatever it may be and that’s fine! I did for a while and I still really enjoy taking occasional cheeky pictures too :)!
But when it feels like we have something to prove, then that can be a sign of deeper issues.
Being in the fitness world as a trainer and competitor has led me to, at times, have an unhealthy awareness of my body and image in general.
And not the kind of awareness that your yoga instructor asks you to have when you’re transitioning from down dog to chatarunga.
Social media can cause young people and older people alike to fixate on what they look like to the outward world instead of how they feel inwardly, or how fulfilled they are in general.
Now, I don’t want to get caught up in trying to decipher the pros and cons of each stance, body aware, body positive, or body neutral.
The goal of this post is to introduce you to this new (to me, anyway) terminology and explain its meaning.
Body neutrality tells people hey, let’s shift our energy away from the body and to exploring talents, intellectual endeavors, and living life in the moment focusing on feeling the sensations that the Earth around us brings instead of feeling some type of way about our bodies.
Personally, I love the FEELINGS OF my body like getting a pump from lifting or the stinging in my lungs from running against the cold air and the weightless delight I get from dancing.
I this way, I can understand how feeling less things ABOUT your body, and focusing on being more present IN your body can have countless benefits.
In other words “When we spend less time thinking about our bodies, it affords us room to focus on other things” -Alison Stone excerpt from the Huffpost.
Body neutrality has been touted as a movement that is inclusive to not only all shapes and sizes but also to people of all ability levels, see the Jezebel writer Hazel Cill’s rational here.
This neutrality has taken presence in my life and I hadn’t even realized that there was a name for it or movement behind it.
Well, now I know.
And you do too!
Thanks for reading ❤ xx.