Now, don’t get us wrong. Body positivity was a good movement that had its place. But it may be the time to move on. And move on to “body neutrality.”
Even the softness of the word neutrality sounds more calm, more accepting with its lack of reaction or response. We all have bodies. You’d think that commonality would equalize us or be bored with the idea of someone else’s body. But we’re a comparative species, and negative reactions swiftly moved to body positivity, and now hopefully to a true neutral relationship with our bodies and each other.
To find out what this movement means, we spoke with Taq Kaur Bhandal, author of Self-Care Down There and researcher in the field of health professions education and menstrual health, and is behind the @imwithperiods and researchbox.ca.
Body neutrality versus body positivity
Bhandal says the purpose of body positivity is “to radically accept the bodies that we are in and treat them as well as we can in all possible aspects of health and also have informed choice in what happens to them and what we do with them.”
But for body neutrality, “we don’t necessarily need to wake up and think, wow my body is the best. But with body neutrality is the absence of negative emotions, feelings and thoughts towards our bodies, with the knowledge that we can be aware of and control those thoughts as well.” She adds: “We’ve seen the intense amount of negativity in people’s reaction and anger to other people’s bodies. We need to acknowledge that it exists in order to move on.”
Let’s talk about body positivity
Enter body neutrality
It’s telling you that you should feel and think a certain way, and to an extent should express yourself a certain way too. But when you have those boundaries, you are the one who is set to make decisions about your body and how you respond to it. “The big lesson is about learning how to be accepting and be in our bodies,” she says.
What you can do to get into the mindset of body neutrality
This can help you recognize any triggers to feeling negatively about your body, whether that’s a certain Instagram account or a topic you shouldn’t discuss with certain “friends.” Boundaries are important, including books and television, adds Bhandal.
Speaking of triggers
“’Little T Trauma’ can be something like a sexist comment, and it sits with you and lingers. And that can range to ‘Big T Trauma,’ something that changes your life, big events like violence, birth, breakup, accidents, losses, depression and eating disorders, layered on with things like the patriarchy, colonialism, extreme capitalism.” Recognizing your trigger or trauma can help you heal, says Bhandal, which is a big part of body neutrality.
It’s not just about body weight
It’s also about food
See also: I went on keto for 3 months and got gout, here's what I learned.
Can we move from period shame to being neutral?
“It’s really hard. How do we embrace pain and become positive about it? The big shift for me, and people that I’ve worked with, if we can shift how we think about it to be more about a life-giving force, a form of renewal, a natural form of detox shed by the body. If we can shift the mindset around it, it can help us deal with the pain more and to deal with people’s reactions.”
Are you ready to become body neutral?
And if not now, when?