The ultimate self care is LOVING YOURSELF. And when we talk about loving yourself we mean loving every aspect of yourself – inside and outside; the good and the “bad.” Today, I wanna’ talk about body neutrality and how it plays into your overall self-image and self-care.
First of all, let me just say, Teri is one of my favourite people. As a fellow photographer, I have been influenced and inspired by her stance on body positivity and the importance of taking a body-positive approach to boudoir photography. Now, let’s get into a bit of what we discussed in that podcast episode and expand upon it.
What is body neutrality?
Body neutrality is all about NOT deciding that your body is only beautiful if it looks a particular way. That means you don’t buy into the idea that thinner is better; you need a thigh gap; that you need a big booty; or large breasts; or a muscular tone.
Take a minute to go back and read that list I just wrote ☝ Can you see that some of those things don’t even work together? Muscular tone and a big booty rarely means you’ll have a thigh gap. And large breasts (when real) rarely accompany a tiny waist. How can we tell ourselves we NEED to look at particular way when everyone’s idea of what we NEED to look like is different?
How does taking a neutral stance on your body help your mental health?
I can tell you from experience that it is EXHAUSTING to constantly worry about the way you appear. My cellulite and mommy belly have left me questioning my clothing choices regularly. I have spent days sweating it out in the heat because I am trying to cover up parts of me I don’t like. I have been distracted as I worried about my thighs, my butt, and more – when I should have been enjoying myself with my family at the park, or the pool, or wherever.
Buying into body ideals and basing our self image and self esteem on how well we live up to those ideals only hurts us. It distracts us, makes us tired. It causes anxiety. We miss out on opportunities (I actually skipped important networking meetings because I was embarrassed about my body). We miss out on the fun we could be having.
Adopting a body neutral stance liberates us from all of that. We can focus on what we’re doing. We can loosen up; have fun. And we’ll have a whole lot of time and energy left to devote to other important things.
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Body neutrality can help your physical health, as well
When we take a body-neutral stance we are deciding that our bodies are just fine the way they are. But what does that mean for our physical health? Does that mean we throw healthy eating out the window because, “Why bother?” Does that mean we stop exercising?
Of course not!
But it DOES mean that we stop putting excessive pressure on ourselves to do these things. It DOES mean that we stop using low self-esteem and a poor body image as our motivation. Instead, we step into our power as strong, capable women. We eat well and exercise because we know it’s GOOD for us. We do it to be physically stronger, to feel better, to live longer, and have more vitality. Instead of doing it because we feel bad we do it to feel GOOD.
Research has shown again and again that we both types of motivation work equally well (for the most part). But even though you may get the same outcomes from both types of motivation, I ask you this: How HAPPY will you be?
Chances are that the more you focus on your shortcomings and beat yourself up about them the less happy you’ll be. Right? And the less happy you are the more likely you are to become depressed, unmotivated, or to binge eat that box of Oreos in secret cupboard.
Positive motivations toward health and wellness are bound to have better effects for your overall physical health.
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