Body Neutrality is a term that has crossed my radar this year. I have been in the camp of body negativity and I have dabbled with body positivity. Unbeknownst to me, I was never really content with my body. Even with all the positivity in the world, it would not take away the years of negativity and the negativity did not remove when I did feel good about myself. I was never meant to pick a side on this scale, I was meant to find a middle point.
Body negativity was easy to pick up. It is easy to be negative when you have a society and social media showing you all the things you do not have. It is easy when you grow up with other girls who are also pointing out what they hate about their bodies. You see them as beautiful and can’t believe they would talk so poorly about themselves. Yet, here you are talking down to yourself. It takes years to even fully recognize that you are in this cycle.
Once I was in my senior year of high school, I decided I was done with the cycle. I had started the road toward body positivity. I was choosing only the clothing that made me feel good. I was doing my makeup before school. Throughout college I kept working on my mindset that I was beautiful. I learned how to love the gap in my teeth. I began smiling with my teeth showing. I loved my face without makeup and with makeup. I absolutely loved my body.
I hit a roadblock after my sophomore year of college. I was going through a hard time and going to therapy. I gained at least 10-15lbs in a short span of time. I was back into my cycle of negativity. It was like all those years of work were for nothing. It took me months before I decided to do something about it. My therapist kept telling me about the benefits of exercise within the realm of mental health. That it would be good for me. So with my boyfriend’s help, I started running. Mind you I had never worked out a day in my life before. My high school gym teachers were lucky if I half-assed something.
It took me a few months before I liked running and working out. Once I did, I kept doing it a few times a month. I felt strong in my body. This helped me back toward the body positivity train. I was strong and I was confident in myself. I continued my work in therapy and worked on my mindset. I was back to loving myself and my body. I was positive about who I was as a person and what I would do. I was going so well.
Until I was not, when COVID hit I was one of many who gained weight. Those 10-15lbs I had lost and felt strong, were back and I was not in a good headspace. I was not concerned about the weight anymore but the headspace was not where I wanted to be. Me being me, I wanted to work toward that positive headspace again. I never realized that I had fallen into a cycle. I was going back and forth between body negativity and positivity. It was at this moment that I heard the term of body neutrality. I was watching a video by Carrie Dayton who introduced me to this term. It is the idea that you do not have to always be positive about your body nor do you need to be negative about it. Your body is just that, your body. Not a positive stimulus or a negative stimulus. That its function is to keep you alive and help you go about your day.
This new perspective is taking some time to adjust to. I want to revert to either end of the spectrum, almost each day. But I constantly remind myself that that is not what my body is for. I’m tired of ping ponging back and forth between being so hard on my body and so positive about it. I don’t need to think of myself as a snack to provide my body with what it needs. Nor do I need to deprive my body because it is not this idealized body in society’s eyes. I do not need to worry about what a scale says about my weight. I just need to fuel it with what is good and exercise because it boosts my mood. That’s it.