Becoming body neutral

Try to imagine a world where you don’t think about your appearance.

You don’t spend your days looking in the mirror, honing in on those thighs you wish were smaller or torturing yourself about the size of your waist and curves. 

Nor do you waste your energy wishing you were thinner, more toned and defined, or pounding the gym to alter your shape.

You just wholeheartedly accept your body for what it is – no love or hate. 

Welcome to body neutrality!

Believed to have started in 2015 by a US fitness instructor, it is fast gaining traction around the world with more fans now than ever. Just look up #bodyneutrality on Instagram and you will find over 100,000 posts encouraging this incredible new way of being.

At its core, body neutrality aims to encourage you to fully accept your body for its achievements as opposed to its appearance. The overall goal is to reduce the enormous focus on physical attractiveness in our looks-obsessed society and remove the idea that beauty has a bearing on a person’s worth. 

So how is it different from body positivity?

Body neutrality challenges the constant ‘feel-good’, I-love-my-body movement that some people find too difficult to adopt.

Whilst it’s great that some sectors of society love the skin they’re in and flaunt their assets all over social media (I’m looking at you, Kardashians), sadly we’re not all in that extrovert headspace. That’s why this new mindset exists to counteract the hype of body positivity – the concept of loving your body no matter what it looks like.

The term ‘body positivity’ was originally coined by a group of self-confessed ‘fat-acceptance’ campaigners, who joined to promote the idea that all bodies, not just slim stereotypically attractive ones, are beautiful.

Body positive followers traditionally encourage conversations around unapologetic weight gain and celebrate plus-size individuals whilst opposing the unhealthy ‘thinspiration’ body image notion often championed by the media. 

Body neutrality, in contrast to all of this, values the facts of what your body does on a functional level for you over how it looks.

How do you do it?

It’s all about altering the way you think about yourself. 

Somebody who is body positive would say:

“I feel good about myself because I know that I look good.”

Whereas, a person who strives for body neutrality believes:

“My appearance has nothing to do with how I feel about myself.”

There are many ways you can try and adopt this approach, starting with self-talk and reflection.

Ask yourself some of the following questions to get a picture of your character and values, unrelated to appearance:

Am I a good friend?

Am I kind to others?

Am I driven and ambitious?

What are my strengths?

What do I enjoy most in life?

How would my nearest and dearest describe my personality?

Once you can build a narrative around your answers you will probably see that your appearance is one of the least interesting things about you and what’s on the inside is much more important.

Good luck!

G x

Body image and perception

“I hate my arms.” 

“My legs are huge.” 

“My hips stick out too much.” 

“I wish my waist was smaller.” 

…sound familiar?  

Body image has become a hot topic lately, regularly featuring in the media and the source of much debate in the press. It’s certainly getting us all talking more than ever before. 

Last week, I attended an online training session on body perception and it really got me thinking about this subject and my tricky relationship with it.

So what actually is body image? How is it defined?  

Well in its most basic form, it’s how we think and feel about our bodies.  

I imagine many of you will agree it can be really hard to get an accurate, balanced view of how we truly look because we bring our own fears and insecurities to our internal image of ourselves.  

I know I’m a serial offender when it comes to looking at myself in the mirror and honing in on everything I don’t like. Those thighs that I think are too large or curves I wish were bigger or smaller in certain places. I can drive myself crazy with it all! 

The media is often held responsible for the nation’s obsession with how we look and our comparisons with others around us.  

We’re all spending more time than ever consuming media and it feels like everywhere we turn there are messages telling us how we should look.  

Whether it’s filtered-to-perfection celebs on Instagram, slim models on clothing websites or even our family and friends looking amazing in their beach pics – it feels like we can’t escape these waves of jealousy that wash over us every single day.  

Positive vs Negative 

Most people will have a positive or negative body image depending on how they view themselves.   

A negative body image involves a distorted and dissatisfied perception of your shape and feelings of shame, anxiety, and self-consciousness. An all too common place for eating disorders to develop.  

Meanwhile positive body image is a clear, true perception of your appearance and feeling comfortable and confident in your body whilst accepting its natural body shape and size. A truly blissful feeling!  

So how can we strive for true body confidence and distance ourselves from our insecurities?  

Here are a few helpful tips you can use to improve your body image  

  • Be grateful for all that your body is, not what it isn’t – just think of all the amazing things it can do; our hearts that keep blood pumping, our skin heals itself, our lungs keep us breathing, the wonder of the five senses and the ability to move, speak and think. It’s far more than just the aesthetics!  
  • Remember everybody is different – our unique genetic make-up affects our height, bone structure, shape and size so you could spend your life striving to look like someone else and it’ll never be possible. That doesn’t mean we can’t be the best version of ourselves but we certainly ought to stop trying to be someone else.  
  • Choose your media carefully – as I already mentioned, we live in media saturated world so we really must choose who to follow, and what to look at very cautiously.  Why not spend some time considering whether you’re subjecting yourself to the right channels online.  
  • Surround yourself with positive affirmations – one of the best things I ever did was write a few things I like about myself and my character and ask a select few friends and family to do the same. I recorded them all in a notebook and stored them on my phone so I can keep reminding myself of all the good in my life. I’m going to start sticking some around my mirror too so I can see them every day.  
  • Treat yourself and your body – who doesn’t feel better for spending some time pampering themselves once in a while? Whether it’s getting your hair done, having a manicure or buying yourself some new clothes, it’s the small steps we can all take to feel good about ourselves and how we look.    
  • Watch affirming videos – the internet may fuel our insecurities at times but you can also find some great, thought provoking material on there too if you look in the right places. I found a couple of really interesting videos about body image that I wanted to share… 

Video one – this one just shows how much we tear ourselves to shreds and fail to realise the positives. It’s a tough watch at the beginning as two complete strangers share their innermost insecurities, but bear with it – it gets so lovely at the end.  

Video two – this is the best Ted talk I have ever seen on the body image topic and I can relate so much to what the speaker, Mary Jelkovsky is saying and the experiences she has had. It really changed the way I think.

Interesting and thought-provoking tips that I hope will help you think differently and realise just how truly beautiful you are!  

G x

Body image and baggy jeans

I used to hate baggy clothes.

When I was younger, if something wasn’t skin tight I had no time for it. I guess I thought loose fitting stuff somehow made me look larger.

Nowadays it’s my saviour! Especially having spent the majority of 2020 in hoodies and joggers.

The thought of returning to my skinny jeans fils me with dread and more insecurity than I can handle. I’m struggling to accept my shape at the moment so really don’t want any one to see it through my clothes. I need garments to hide in.

Enter the humble ‘mom’ jean (or ‘boyfriend’/‘girlfriend’ depending on which shop you’re in).

I love them!

I’ve wanted some for ages and finally plucked up the courage to enter a shop and buy some this week.

I haven’t felt confident enough to purchase any new clothes since lockdown started. My body image is at its lowest and I’m worrying about clothing sizes and how I look in different garments and fits.

These jeans have combatted a great deal of that.

They’re perfect for my needs and luckily fashionable enough to get away with. They’re so comfy and loose and I don’t feel remotely revealing while wearing them.

Thank the denim heavens!

G x