Trigger warning: This article describes some descriptions of disordered eating and self-harm.
Last October, Grammy winner Billie Eilish was photographed at a rare moment: in public. In the photo, instead of the baggy clothes we are used to seeing on 19-year-old Eilish, she was instead wearing a cardigan and a tank top. That resulted in increased scrutiny about her appearance and unwanted conversations about her body.
Looking back at this paparazzi moment, Eilish reposted a video at the time saying, “You all need to start normalizing real bodies, okay? A belly is normal . Breasts sag, especially after breastfeeding. Instagram isn't real. '
Billie, who has struggled in the past with insecurities surrounding her body, mental health issues and disordered eating, later shared: “I think people around me were more concerned about it than I was. To be honest, I started wearing baggy clothes because of my body. ' The star went on to say she wasn't hugely influenced by the photos or triggered because she was in a good place in her life and her relationship with her body, compared to her past.
And echoeing that very sentiment, the body neutrality movement is on the rise. Don't confuse it with body positivity, though. Body positivity encourages women to celebrate their bodies in any way, typically with plenty of pictures of scantily clad bodies, inspiring quotes and a call to love your body.
Earlier this month, singer Lizzo called out the body positivity movement, saying the term has been "co-opted by all bodies" and has become a trend of "celebrating medium and small girls and people who occasionally get rolls." She added that fat people are still getting the short end of the movement.
Similarly, Jameela Jamil has been an advocate for body neutrality, sharing earlier in an interview with Glamour in 2019: "I don’t think about my body ever … 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.”
What is body neutrality?
Body neutrality means that you do not necessarily have to be positive about your body. Instead, to view your body as a temple that offers you much more than being judged by its external beauty alone. So instead of urging us to love our bodies no matter what they look like, body neutrality focuses on what your body can do for you.
That also works for the athletes amongst us. For example, to not push yourself too much and to listen o your body to take a rest day or a massage. Your body worked hard and that was the most important thing to reach the fitness goal. Intuitive eating also fits within this framework. With body neutrality, focus on mindfulness instead. Take a few minutes each day to nurture your mind-body connection, which will help you maintain a body-neutral mindset over the long term.