Here’s an Idea: Body-Neutrality

  We hear a lot about loving your body and being body positive. But for some of us that’s just not an easy shift. 

But something more attainable, and certainly a step up from body hatred, is a neutral attitude towards our bodies. For me, I feel best when I’m neutral. Why? Because when I’m neutral I’m not passing judgement either way. It just is. 

I would rather just be comfortable in my skin than basking in my body’s awesomeness (which basking is not a likely scenario for me). I’ve just come back from two weeks of wearing a bikini every day. And I have to admit, I don’t find that the easiest thing to do. 

But I resisted the temptation to go for the tankini instead. I didn’t spend a lot of time obsessing about how I looked, but random thoughts of ‘too old’ and ‘too fat’ did pass through my mind. I didn’t let them stick around. 

My husband has a saying that I really like. Instead if “have a nice day” he says “have a day.” Good, bad, indifferent — a day is a day is a day. Why pressure people to have a nice day. Maybe that’s not a reasonable expectation all the time. 

So “have a day” takes that pressure and expectation off. That’s neutrality. We can be the same with bodies. I read a lot that tells us “love your body!” But maybe like every day can’t be a nice day, we can’t all be expected to love our bodies. 

But maybe, just maybe, we can stop lashing out at them with hateful thoughts of self-loathing. Just live in them neutrally, neither loving nor hating. 

By the end of my time on the boat I was kind of there. I threw a bikini on in the morning and went about my vacation. Easy, comfortable, neutral in my skin. 

If body-love comes easily to you, bravo! But if it doesn’t, if you feel the pull of negative judgments in that area, neutrality might be a more attainable goal. 

Have a day. 😐

14 thoughts on “Here’s an Idea: Body-Neutrality

  1. I definitely agree that a positive body image isn’t always easy, but just appreciating the simple things it does for you every day is a great start. It’s self-fulfilling – the more you feed it well, move it well, and generally treat it well, the better you’ll feel about it.

  2. I really like this. But I would advocate for body neutrality not only for those who can’t quite attain body positivity. I like the idea of body neutrality because body positivity is often yet another way to remind women that it’s All About Their (our) Bodies. It doesn’t have to be. The world is by and large still so obsessed with women’s bodies that it insists on either plastering representations of women’s bodies everywhere, or banishing representations of women’s bodies. But we don’t have to accept that our primary meaning resides in our bodies. We can just say “meh” about bodies (like a lot of men do), and focus on all the other stuff, you know?

  3. The better I am at accepting reality the more likely I am to use exercise as a way of extending and bettering my life rather than as a way to achieve an airbrushed standard of beauty designed to create envy.

  4. Agree, sometimes a neutral perspective is better than heading down the rabbit hole of self loathing and insecurity. Particularly when it comes to our body shape. For years I felt like a bony washboard with no boobs, wishing I was more like my school friends. I received unsolicited comments from strangers about how thin I was, and it hurt. That was a long time ago. Now, I feel comfortable in my skin, as you say. Or at least, on the “bad” days, neutral 🙂 I’ve learned that this is my body type and I gotta love it. I truly do now, and it feels good. Know exactly where you’re coming from!

  5. I love this post and its so refreshing to see so many points of views of thiis issue. I love your blog and i am looking forward to more posts!

  6. I’m a body loving person. I often walk by the mirror and smile. Not sure how I got to that place. Partly deliberate, I suppose. For example, I like my shoulders and when I see them I’m reminded of my physical strength. Certainly as Lady Day notes paying attention to our bodies something women are encouraged to do. But for me it’s connected to sex and sexual pleasure and it’s hard to imagine having that without feeling good about my body.

    And I’m not so enamored of men’s ability to ignore embodiment. Brains in vats! And they sometimes get ill for failing to pay attention to their bodies, ignore obvious signs of illness, and don’t visit doctors often enough.

    This made me think. Neutrality, even for me, has its place. It’s what I aim for with bits of my body I am given to not liking so much, baby belly and stretch marks for example. There I focus on the story my body tells, the history, rather than appearance alone. I haven’t thought of that as neutral so much as it is looking for a different sort of meaning. But I can see the connection between acceptance and neutrality.

    Still mulling.

    1. Interesting. I think the link with sex and sexual pleasure is a great point. But in my view, the main obstacle to that (in terms of body-thoughts) would be self-loathing. As long as we’re comfortable in our skin and not self-conscious, that should be enough to enable being totally present for the experience. No need to be totally in love with our body to have good sex. At least that’s what I’ve found — best times are those when there were no meta-body thoughts of any kind.

  7. Yeah, I need more than not self-loathing! But since I’m capable of more than not self-loathing, that’s good. If self-loathing were a go-to thing for me, I’d be jumping fast on the neutrality train.

  8. And I’ve always heard “Have a day” as kind of like “Don’t die.” Of course I’m going to have a day! What I wish for those I care about is for them to have a good day. But we have different linguistics intuitions. I’m recalling our “it is what it is” disagreement in which I hear political apathy and you hear neutrality and acceptance of the facts. You hear “it is what it is now what do we do” and I hear “it is what it is so I don’t have do anything.”

    I’ve missed you!

    Welcome back from holidays!

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