Body neutrality is a philosophy that is gaining momentum in today’s society of unrealistic standards seen on social media. The idea focuses on not thinking about appearance and observing our bodies without judgment.

One of the early advocates of the concept was Jameela Jamil. In a 2019 interview with Glamour magazine, she said, “Imagine just not thinking about your body. You’re not hating it. You’re not loving it. You’re just a floating head. I’m a floating head wandering through the world.”

Taylor Swift has also backed Jamil and praised her for using her platform to bring awareness to an issue that so many people face.

“We have amazing women out there like Jameela Jamil saying, ‘I’m not trying to spread body positivity. I’m trying to spread body neutrality where I can sit here and not think about what my body is looking like.’”

As we all know, social media has a hidden dark side and can often promote extremely unrealistic beauty standards. The false representation sends an extremely dangerous message to people all over, especially young girls.

Studies everywhere show how excess use of social media increases suicide rates amongst teen girls. Then, during the pandemic, technology use skyrocketed, and suicidal thoughts and attempts rose 50% among teen girls compared to the previous year.

Body neutrality focuses on practically looking at your body. Anne Poirier, the author of “The Body Joyful,” is credited with popularizing the term in 2016. She is a body-image coach and helps her clients focus on what their body can do for them, not their shape or how it looks.

Poirier thinks of body image as a spectrum, saying, “On one side is body hatred, and on the other is body love,” she said. “I call body neutrality a resting place from the chaos of your mind and from the external voices of societal pressure. This is a place where you don’t have to love your body, but you don’t have to hate it, either.”

She explains that we should look at parts of our body and appreciate why they’re there and how they help us as humans. For example, one may look at their stomach as the reason we can digest food, while skin is the largest organ in the body and serves as our main protection.

This way of thinking will help to accept that weight or appearance doesn’t define worth. Our bodies and all of their shapes and sizes make us who we are and help us more than we may ever realize. If you think about it, our bodies are truly amazing mechanisms. This holistic approach can change the focus on appearance to observing without judgment.

According to the NY Times, here are some expert’s tips for getting started on body neutrality:

Focus on what your body can do for you. 

The more we think and point out things we don’t like about ourselves, the louder those voices get in our heads. This is not a sustainable way to think about ourselves and can hurt our physical and mental health. Poirier put it beautifully when she offered a new motto to recite to ourselves, “My body is a vessel that I get to experience my life in.”

Cut off ruminations. 

A way to do this is to get used to stopping your thoughts before they begin to manifest. If you’re looking in the mirror and start thinking about body parts that are “too big” or have stretch marks, ask yourself if these thoughts are helpful to you.

Spend less time getting ready. 

Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself for too long and ultimately decided you hate the picture? When we fixate on our flaws, it doesn’t do anything but harm us. If we spend less time getting ready or looking into a mirror, we don’t allow ourselves to focus on all the negative. Some body-neutrality advocates have even covered up their mirrors.

Wear comfortable clothes. 

Ever heard, “beauty is pain”? This is a horrible way of thinking and creates unrealistic standards. Try to wear clothes that you’re comfortable in and make you feel good. Wearing too tight or uncomfortable clothes can be a fast train to personal body shame.

Reframe why exercise is important to you. 

Focus on how movement makes you and your body feel. Many people will do strenuous workouts at the gym, hoping to lose major poundage fast. This isn’t a great thought to have, and instead, we can focus on a nonphysical reason we want to work out. Body movement can lift mood and be a great distraction from everyday life, but it can be dangerous for the wrong reasons.

Shut down unwanted conversations. 

Take a step back from conversations that won’t benefit your mental health. Maybe a group is talking about losing weight or that a particular look isn’t attractive. Take it upon yourself to remove yourself from those conversations and remind yourself to not look at your or anyone else’s body with judgment.

Be patient. 

Body neutrality isn’t something that can happen overnight. It’s something to work towards, and it takes time to train our minds and change the way we think. It’s not a destination; it’s about breaking dangerous patterns and being kind to ourselves and others.

The world needs a new approach to how we perceive our bodies. This could be a great way for people to start combating unrealistic societal standards.

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