I personally like the shift in the various anti-diet/self-love movements to the phrase “Body Neutrality.” I like the idea that the end goal of our journeys should be to spend zero precious minutes thinking about our body. And more importantly…that people in the greater society should spend zero minutes thinking about women’s bodies. I mean…could you imagine how much mental power you would free up if you just stopped thinking about your body all together? And could you imagine how differently the media would treat women if we were all neutral to their bodies? I like all of this as an end-goal for women individually, and for society as a whole.
But here’s the thing. I don’t believe everyone can go from Yo-Yo Dieting and Hating your body to Body Neutrality without a stop at Body Positivity and Radical Self Love.
I know that I couldn’t.
I have realized lately that I am spending much more time in the Body Neutrality mindset but I only think that was possible because I spent some times forcing myself to counteract the hateful thoughts about my body with unbridled positivity. It was in a war with self-hatred and the only defense was loud and vocal thoughts of love.
When that voice inside my head would said, “UGGG…those extra 40 lbs you gained make you disgusting and gross and you are a sloppy monster,” I would shut that voice down and say, “You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are beautiful,” until that other voice faded into the background.
I didn’t necessarily believe it, but after awhile those negative thoughts faded more and more and the forced positive talk gave birth to more natural positive talk and I started seeing myself in the mirror and my first response was not disgust, but affection in various forms. During all of this I didn’t really pay attention to writings about body neutrality because I very much needed the weapons of body positivity to help me fight my war.
And only very recently have I noticed that I don’t have a lot of thoughts either way about my body anymore. It’s like I accidentally reached neutrality after I depleted the hateful body talk by drowning it the waters of body positivity.
Maybe there’s a way to reach neutrality without that step in the Body Positivity mindset, but for me? I don’t think it would have ever happened. The hatred I felt for my body after obsessing over my weight and dieting for 20+ years needed to be suffocated by radical self-love.
And for the record…as I start to build my life again outside of this war with self-hatred. I can more easily see now that there are actually people out there who have always had healthy relationships with dieting and their bodies and fitness and beauty and maybe they are not anti-diet and maybe they don’t need body positivity or body neutrality and maybe fitspiration really does inspire them to be healthy and love themselves. I am starting to see that there is not just one path to self-love and health for everyone.
BUT, I do believe our society favors the thin, the able-bodied, and the traditionally beautiful and that is a problem. The more paths we all take to self-love that simultaneous destroy that shit…the better for us all.