We all have those days when we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. Maybe you’re feeling bloated, or stressed out, or simply having a bad day. Regardless, body acceptance and self-love can be extremely difficult, especially on the days when you don’t feel like yourself.
In recent years, the rise of the body-positivity movement has told us to love the way our body looks, no matter what we see in the mirror. Body positivity tells us to constantly repeat positive affirmations about our appearance, even if we don’t believe them.
While this is a great concept, it can be difficult to truly believe these affirmations. Many women feel pressure to love their body unconditionally, leaving them feeling inadequate for not meeting the task and constantly concerned about the way they look.
Ironically, as body-positivity has been brought into mainstream media in recent years, it has become somewhat exclusive. Particularly on social media, many smaller, white women have adopted the term and the so called ‘inclusive’ movement began to conform to societal beauty standards.
In contrast, the concept of body neutrality takes the emphasis off the way our bodies look, and focuses on how it functions and how it serves us. It dissociates self-worth with appearance, which is an extremely refreshing approach in our appearance-obsessed society.
Like many women, I have struggled with body image issues throughout much of my life. While I love the concept of body-positivity, it has always felt unrealistic to love the way I look at all times. I have come to realize that I feel my best when I am focused not on the way I look, but how I feel and function.
These days, society is constantly reminding us of our appearance. We can always be better looking, thinner, curvier– the list goes on and on. Whether you like the way you look or not, thinking about your appearance can consume a lot of time and energy.
Rather than looking in the mirror and thinking: “I feel good because I know I’m beautiful,” as the body-positivity movement has taught us, I try to look in the mirror and think: “how I feel about myself has nothing to do with my appearance.”
This approach allows us to accept ourselves and be grateful for our bodies and all they provide us, but doesn’t tell us to lie to ourselves and with an influx of positive affirmations.
Practicing body neutrality allows us to think about and spend time doing other things that are so much more important than appearance. Meaningful things like building relationships, spending time with friends and family, achieving career goals and experiencing new things without being worried about our appearance.
For so many years, our worth as women has been reduced to the way we look. Body-neutrality frees us from all expectations, especially those expectations coming from within ourselves. It allows us to accept who we are and simply live our lives. It is okay to not love your appearance all the time, because we are so much more than the way we look.