Much is being made of the body positivity movement today. It’s being used by manufacturers to sell products through the guise of “self love.” It’s being promoted as the solution to poor self-image. It’s seen in advertisements, commercials, books, YouTube videos, self-help gurus, music, and in any media where a message of body positivity can be manifested. However, I find in my work and in my personal recovery, that not only are people’s body perceptions not getting any better, they may be, generally, getting worse.
Why is body positivity not effective in feeling better about my body?
For one, it can be argued that, particularly in eating disorder recovery, it is a gigantic “leap” to make the shift from a negative perception of myself and my body to a place where I can love and celebrate my physical self. This is a shift that may take years of work. Therefore, the next logical step in feeling better about my body may not be moving from a “negative” perspective to a “positive” one, but moving from a “negative” perspective to a “neutral” one.
Body neutrality is practicing acceptance and peace with my physical self. It’s not avoiding my body, but not obsessing about it either: It’s taking the time to see and be with my body, for exactly how it is in this moment. Given our typical personality profile, approaching things from a place of “neutrality” doesn’t often come naturally. For myself, I tend to see things from extremes: I either may have “the best” day ever, or “the worst.” This has, thankfully, changed as my recovery has progressed, and I find myself inching closer to that ever elusive word that used to be so foreign to me: Balance.
The same can be said for our body image. Moving towards balance in our relationship with our body through a neutral approach can be an effective tool, and I find this to be more of a necessary step than just a blanket “positive” perspective.
Some neutral affirmations to practice towards your body may include:
- The way I look does not reflect my worth; it is just one part of who I am.
- How I care and respect myself has nothing to do with my physical appearance.
- My happiness is not dependent on how attractive I am to other people.