Guest written by Missy Modell, a musical parody artist and activist focused on the intersection of social justice and pop culture. Missy is the founder of YES MAM Creative, a consultancy for mission-based brands. You can find Missy on Instagram at @missymodell.
You’ve likely come across the word “positivity” on social media more times than you can count. Let us share some fun campaign examples:
Triggered yet? Although starting from a good place, body positivity can have the tendency to translate into toxic positivity. With such a focus on appearance (as shown in above hashtags), the pressure to be/look/exist in a certain way can create unattainable expectations.
Rather than focusing on where you are wanting to be and how you physically look, a good reframe might be looking at what you can do, as well as how you think and feel.
This is the power of a body neutral mindset.
Byrdie explains it well: “At its core, body neutrality is the idea that you can exist without having to think too much about your body one way or another, positive or negative. You can simply exist and be worthy of respect without thinking about your body at all. Or, feeling good about it one day and not as good about it the next."
As we approach the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, the word “gratitude” is naturally floating around. But what happens if we aren’t feeling so grateful for our bodies? We’ve put them through a lot. Between a pandemic, daily stressors, societal messaging, internalized biases, and more, it may feel like way too big of a pill to swallow.
Maybe “gratitude” feels too loaded and not realistic right now. Perhaps instead of demanding unconditional love for your physical form and how you look, what if you replaced that feeling of gratitude with acknowledgement; acknowledging all that your body does in order for you to exist in the world? Allowing for a more neutral framework can allow this. This is why body neutrality can be so powerful for many, because it creates authentic, non-judgment.
Below are three important elements of understanding body neutrality:
- Mindfulness: “Body neutrality commonly goes hand in hand with mindfulness in the sense that when you respect your body, give it care, nutrition, rest, and movement, you will notice how good you begin to feel and how well your body functions.” - VeryWellMind
- It’s Non-Physical: Although it uses the word “body”, this philosophy is mostly rooted to non-body related characteristics. For example, focusing on what it can do (birth a child, carry groceries, do a crossword puzzle, etc.) versed what you can't do.
- You Don’t Need to LOVE Your Body: It’s all about authentically living in your body every day. You can at once not always feel love for your body but be appreciative of what you body can do.
Wherever you stand on these concepts, as we approach a new year, we encourage you to just acknowledge. Yes, you can simply exist without thinking about your body or how you feel about it all the time. Instead, focus on how far you’ve come and all the incredible things you can do (even if one day, you’re not particularly in love with how you look.)