On Body Neutrality

Tasha Kleeman

In an ideal world, we would all celebrate our bodies. We would love every inch of them, and wear our marks, blemishes and imperfections with pride. We would instinctively feel confident in our attractiveness, and find beauty in what differentiates us from the crowd.

 

This is how things ought to be, and yet we live in a world that makes bodies very difficult to love. For many of us, brought up in a society that profits off bodily insecurities and promotes an unrealistic beauty ideal, body positivity isn’t a realisable goal. Or at least, while it may be possible to love our bodies some of the time, maintaining this attitude every day just isn’t sustainable: particularly if our body image issues are deep-rooted and long-standing.

 

Your body is a tool, not an ornament. 

So we may not be able to love our bodies all the time. But perhaps aiming to feel neutral about them is a more realistic and sustainable goal. To appreciate them for their function: for getting us from A to B, and for facilitating experiences. To recognise them, not as objects of our love, hate, or control, but simply as the material packaging we were born with, and can’t really do that much about. Our bodies are our home, and we’re stuck with them: for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

Of course, feeling neutral about our bodies won’t always be easy. In a world that places such emphasis on aesthetics, our bodies are central to how we feel about ourselves. How we dress them, move them and present them to the world feels core to our identity.

However, as long as your self-worth is tied up with the shape of your body, it will be unstable. Bad body image days are inevitable, and they generally have much more to do with the state of your mind than the shape of your body. If you can shift your perspective, and start seeing your body as something that helps you move through the world, but does not define you, and your intrinsic value as something unchanging, regardless of fluctuations in your body weight - that will provide a much more stable and sustainable path to happiness and self-worth.

Your body is a tool, not an ornament. If you can learn to love it, wonderful. But if you can learn to take care of it, that’s more than good enough. And maybe that isn’t so different from love after all.

Tasha is a writer and content creator from London. She set up The Recovery Club in lockdown to create a virtual community for eating disorder recovery, in socially distanced times.

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