Body Positivity VS Body Neutrality

Today I am going to get very real, raw and honest with you. I have never been someone who found comfort in conformity. I struggle to ever fit in – anywhere. I reject labels of any kind to be honest, when I did cross fit, I never called myself a cross fitter. When I invested heavily in kickboxing training, I never called myself a kick boxer. When I ran countless marathons and half marathons – I never called myself a runner.

I don’t subscribe to conformity. I don’t find comfort in surrounding myself with like minded people. To me, life is better left open to possibilities. Life is exciting when I am free to follow my intuition, explore new experiences and be willing and able to turn a new page, walk a new path, at any given moment.

So I suppose it wasn’t surprising when I couldn’t fly the body positivity flag. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic. There is not one single part of me that is judging anyone that has embraced body positivity as a concept or a way of being.

Power to you.

Here’s my truth. There have been many times in my life that I have thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t full get on board the body positivity train.

Body positivity, as I understand it, encourages full love and acceptance of your body as it is. It clearly separates your outer body image, and your worth. What you look like is not indicative of who you are. Beyond that, you should love your body unconditionally, as it is, without reservation or hesitation.

Ive struggled with this. I really have. My body doesn’t hold me back from sharing my passions, connecting with my partner, or believing that this one beautiful life of mine is unfolding perfectly – but I would absolutely be lying if I said that every time I looked in the mirror I felt nothing but love for myself.

As I exited my twenties and found the years rolling on into my thirties, I was determined to be a woman who was the epitome of body positivity. I wanted that for myself. I would be lying if I said that I was doing this successfully.

There were countless days that I look into the mirror and was critical of what I saw in the mirror in front of me. I felt like a failure. I judged myself harshly for not being able to simply love and accept my body on any given day.

Did it make me shallow? Was I superficial? Why couldn’t I just love every part of my body. Logically I know that every woman has stretch marks and cellulite. Why did I pull a face every time I caught a glimpse of the cellulite on the back of my thighs? When would I be able to smile at it and say ‘ beautiful – I love you just as I love every other part of me’.

Can you relate?

Ive spent years working on self awareness so it did not sit well with me that I couldn’t be body positive, in all ways at all times.

Imagine my relief when I realised that I didn’t have to be body positive. Imagine how much I laughed when I realised that I was being peer pressured into loving myself and it was making me judge myself!

The pressure to be body positive was actually having a negative impact on my relationship with myself! I thought that in not loving every single thing I saw in the mirror – it meant that I couldn’t have deep compassion, appreciation and respect for myself.

I don’t think that’s true.

I was describing this reflection to a friend. I was explaining that even though I don’t always love what I see in the mirror – there is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel so proud of all the things my body can do. I love the way it can receive love and affection and hold and squeeze the people I love. I love the strength and power I can generate through movement. I love what my body can do for me. I love the things my body can experience. I love that I know it doesn’t matter what I look like – my body is actually amazing.

She looked at me and said ‘ohhhh I know what that’s called! Theres a term to describe that – body neutrality!”

Now Ill admit – I started laughing. It seems ridiculous that in 2020 there seems to be a term to describe everything.

But there you go. Body neutrality. A new way to think about the relationship you have with your body. Love and respect and reverence for your body that has absolutely nothing to do with the way that it looks. A focus on what your body can do. An appreciation for all that it has overcome. Curiosity about all that it is possible of.

I don’t think one way of thinking is better than the other. I don’t think body neutrality is a better way of relating to your body than body positivity.

Im simply sharing my truth today because I know there are so many of us, bombarded with images and buzz words and ideas about what self love looks like.

If you cant relate to what you are seeing around you, take a moment to turn inward and think about what you are feeling within you.

Sometimes when we look in the mirror, we are framing what we see with the thoughts, ideas and beliefs of the people around us. Take time to silence the noise. Maybe you need to be reintroduced to yourself.

Either way – work to speak words of kindness to yourself today. The world needs kindness now more than ever – we each need to start with ourselves.