I have had a lot of negative feelings about my body since becoming a mom. Although it functions in (mostly) the same ways it did before having children, it looks much different. I’ve really struggled with accepting this new form.
My dissatisfaction with my body led me down a path of exploring body positivity. According to Wikipedia, body positivity is a movement that focuses on the acceptance of ALL bodies. It hinges on the belief that everyone, regardless of their body type, deserves to to have a happy and positive body image.
Sounds amazing, right? That’s because it is. But …
What if you’re like me? A person with a body type that our American society would consider healthy and fit, who still can’t find that body-positive place because your body doesn’t look the way you think it should?
We all have our own standards for how we want our bodies to look. For me, accepting that my body may never get back to that ideal standard I have for myself has been a struggle. Even harder, though, was asking myself why I couldn’t love and accept my body the way that the beautiful and diverse members of the body positivity movement could?
Compared to them, I felt vain. Ungrateful. Fragile.
This inner struggle took me down a path of reading and researching that led to the beautiful utopia called body neutrality.
I believe that body neutrality is for everyone, but it is especially well-suited for moms. It focuses on taking a neutral perspective on your body. It means you don’t have to love your body every day. In fact, some days you may feel downright crummy about it. The beautiful thing about body neutrality is that it doesn’t ask you to love how your body looks. In fact, body neutrality shifts the focus away from your body’s appearance altogether, and focuses instead on the amazing things you body can do for you.
Moms, if there is anything that pregnancy and child birth taught us, it’s how amazing our bodies are. Look at the incredible things they can do! Our bodies know how to build a human brain. How to create bone marrow. How to spark a heartbeat. Aren’t you in awe of the profound wisdom that your body has?!
This, I believe, is why I was so drawn to body neutrality. According to Very Well Mind, body neutrality is about recognizing the remarkable abilities and non-physical characteristics of your body instead of the physical appearance. Instead of saying, “I love my tummy, stretch marks and all, because it is beautiful just the way it is” (which, for some of us, is not something we will ever feel), body neutrality teaches us to say, “My tummy brought forth life and holds the organs I need to live. It’s doing its job very well.”
For me, this loving attitude toward what my body does for me, and the permission to NOT have to love my body’s appearance all the time, is what feels like home. It has transformed my feelings toward my body and my overall self worth.
It can take awhile to adopt a body neutral mindset. There are some affirmations that, if said daily, can help you get there. Here are a few of my favorites:
#1. The way I look does not define me. My appearance is just one small part of what makes me who I am, and I will not over-emphasize its role.
#2. I am a lovable person no matter how my body looks. There are so many amazing things about me that are worthy of love, regardless of my appearance.
#3. I eat to nourish my body and I do not have to fear food. It is not the enemy.
#4. I can’t hate myself into health or fitness. But through loving myself, and giving myself grace, I’ll get there.
#5. I thank my body for taking care of me every day, and I aim to take care of it too.
#6. It is natural for food to bring me pleasure. I try my best to nourish my body in a healthy way, but I am also allowed to enjoy my favorite foods.
#7. I won’t love my body every day, but I can always appreciate what it does for me.
#8. I don’t judge myself on days that I don’t like my body. That’s normal, and it’ll pass.
#9. When I notice myself criticizing my body, I take time to appreciate what it’s doing for me in this very moment.
#10. All bodies are different. The ideal I’ve seen on television and social media isn’t what the world is actually like.
#11. My brain, heart, and soul are part of my body, and it is from them that all of my goodness flows.
#12. My body created, brought forth, and nurtured new life. I gave life where none existed. My body is miraculous.