We’ve all heard of body positivity – from public figures like Lizzo and Ashley Graham, people have been embracing the body positivity movement by normalizing normal bodies.However, I’ve come to realize that body positivity isn’t as ‘positive’ as it seems.
Body positivity encourages us to look in the mirror and love what we see. But why do we have to love our bodies? Do we have to love everything else in our life? I know for sure that I don’t love everything in my life – I feel indifferent about a lot of things. I’m pretty indifferent about my classes this semester – I don’t love or hate them. I’m also indifferent about the meal I had at the dining hall today – tilapia and potatoes aren’t my favorite but they were still good. And there’s a lot of other things I’m indifferent about – my car that I simply appreciate for working and getting me place to place, my phone case for simply working and protecting my phone from drops and bumps, and my slippers that cover my feet and let me walk about my residence hall freely.
You might be confused why I’m bringing up so many insignificant things in my life right now – my classes, my lunch from the 921 today, my car, my phone case, and my slippers. These all seem so unimportant, and a lot of these things are just unavoidable aspects of life (like classes and meals) and random things we use to live normal lives (cars, phones and their cases, shoes). None of these things are important to who we are and what makes us important or interesting as people.
What if we thought of our bodies as the same thing?
Our bodies aren’t us – they simply carry us around in life and help us operate. Our bodies are the reasons we’re able to walk to class, drive to work, hug friends, and travel to new places. Our bodies don’t determine what we value, how we treat others, our hobbies, and our ambitions. In other words, our bodies are the least interesting thing about us.
The issue with body positivity is that it means we have to love our body. It places importance on our bodies and makes it something we must actively love about ourselves and others. So what if we were indifferent about our bodies, like other things in our life? What if we tried body neutrality?
‘Body neutrality’ is a concept of feeling indifferent about our bodies and detaching it from ourselves so that we feel uninterested in how we look, how much we weigh, or what shape we are. Instead, we are able to accept the way we look and how much we weigh by instead recognizing the importance behind our bodies and how they give us the ability to live life the way we do. Instead of saying “I love my thighs, even though they have stretch marks and jiggle when I run,” we can say “I appreciate my legs because they let me walk around campus all day today.” Thus, we aren’t focusing on what our bodies look like but rather what they allow us to do. Similar to how I spoke about my car earlier, I’m not so much concerned about what it looks like but rather the fact that it gets me from Point A to Point B.
Body neutrality doesn’t mean we hate our bodies or have given up on trying to love them. Instead, we are just focusing on our bodies’ main functions – keeping us alive, healthy, and able-bodied, for those of us who are fortunate enough. Think about it – our bodies are currently creating new cells, pumping blood through our veins, and getting oxygen to our brains – all on its own. We don’t have to manually blink, breathe, or do the dozens of other things our bodies do on their own to keep us alive. Our bodies are already doing enough for us – so why should we care what they look like too?
Body neutrality can be a great way to start a healthier relationship with your body. Instead of trying to love your body no matter what, channel that love into more important things like our friends and family – things that actually feel and benefit from our love. Our body isn’t something we have to love – it is simply something we need to accept as a necessary means in our life. We can harness a lot of positivity in our lives – instead of trying to force it on our bodies, we can be positive about other things in our lives and remember that our bodies are the least interesting thing about us.