So I’m a human, just like you, who has a body. I like to see this body as my source for life. A body that thrives, provides, injures, exhausts and carries on nonetheless.
From birth, I struggled heavily trying to gain weight. This challenge made it all the more difficult to stabilize my joints and avoid injury with undiagnosed hEDS. I wanted nothing more than to gain weight, but the reality was that I had to accept my unique body.
Even with this acceptance, it was challenging with a society that admired ‘skinny’.
I wanted nothing to do with it.
But I kept those thoughts to myself due to the likelihood of being misunderstood or mocked.
Society shifted into a time of body positivity and loving every inch of your physical body, but all that I wanted to be was strong, stable and healthy in my body.
That’s what I felt was actually important, but body judgements are what run our society.
They tell us how the external world should be… whether it’s the clothes we put on our bodies, the shape of it, or the foods we eat.
The body whose purpose is to carry us through life and make sure that we can enjoy it the best that we can, didn't promise that it would be the same as the next person. It promised to work as hard as it possibly could to give us a life.
We can see it as something that must be loved, or we can see it as an individual framework made just for us.
With that framework, we can create a life that is all our own. Because the reality is, we exist within this body.
Life itself is short and fleeting. The last thing we need is to allow the judgements of others to influence us — including our own.
So what about body neutrality instead? Rather than requiring and training ourselves into loving our bodies, why not put less emphasis on needing to love it? Why can’t we instead learn to support and honor it?
You and I and everyone else should not be expected to love their body every minute of every day, but rather find gratitude for it because it is what allows us to experience life.
Just like life, our bodies are also allowed to bum us out every once in a while. Especially if the function of our body changes due to age, illness and the list goes on.
I stand strong in supporting those outside of my body type of… white, thin, cis-gender, young and even though I do live with hEDS, I appear on most instances to have nothing wrong at all with me physically.
It feels like the online movement is missing voices from non-white, disabled, people above size 4, non-binary, and the elderly.
It’s time to think outside of this space of appearance when it has to do with your self-worth. I think a good place to start–and end–is to think for ourselves. Our worth isn’t based on our bodies. Our worth is extraneous to our bodies.
So then what should we value? This is a question to ask yourself, but below are a few examples of values.
- The way you hold space and offer love to those closest to you.
- How you make a choice to get out of bed every morning knowing that the day can be just as full of joy as it can be sorrow.
- Creating a work of expression that is all your own–a painting, a poem or a warm cooked meal, etc.
- Saying no when it isn’t right for you, even if it disappoints someone else.
- Practicing self-care knowing you’ll feel better afterwards.
- Any form of kindness to a stranger whose life you know nothing about.
- Joy, love, openness, creativity, adventure, solitude, integrity, peace, compassion.
There are so many more interesting things about us that should have a stronger emphasis than the way our bodies look.
Why are we receiving comments on our body?
The reality is, so many people will not understand why we need to place less emphasis on it. And choose to not wake up to the idea that these comments are unnecessary and unsolicited. So we have to figure out how we will respond to their comments.
How can you authentically live in your body and see it for what it is through an honest lens?
A lens that wasn’t created by society or a beauty standard, but instead, created by you.
By practicing body neutrality, you can help yourself when you are in those moments.
In addition, body standards drastically change from decade to decade. Why are we STILL going by them… it's almost as boring as fashion trends. Who the heck cares? You live in your body, who says what you should or shouldn't put on top of it?
Say this to yourself aloud or in your head…
Who I am is not my body. Who I am is everything other than how my physical body appears.
How to achieve body neutrality:
1. If you’re an affirmation person, shift your affirmations around phrases like:
- I am creative and can design my life as I see fit.
- I am resilient and will continue to concur my personal challenges.
- I am loved and will show up for myself and the people in my life who are most important to me.
- I am worthy of the things in life that I feel the most joy from.
- Attached is a workbook I created called An Affirmation With a Why.
2. Stop using a weight scale to measure your worth.
- Psst, here’s a little secret. You can actually decline to be weighed at the doctor's office. Try it!
3. Declutter your social media accounts and circle of loved ones that don’t serve you. Instead, connect with other people that value the same things.
4. Shift your perspective by understanding that your body is here to serve you.
- Not what it does for our partner, family member, neighbor or co-worker. But how our own unique body carries us through life as best as it can.
5. Responding indifferently, changing the subject or addressing it head on when someone wants to comment on your appearance or body’s functionality in any way that you don’t approve of.
6. If this entire concept is challenging for you, ask yourself where the idea of this being so important came from you.
7. Seek support from a provider who specializes in body image and trauma work.
You are not obligated to claim all of these ideas, but I hope that something will resonate for you!
The reality is, we don’t know the challenges of others because we live in a society that is only slowly beginning to shift the paradigm around emotional and mental wellness.
The sooner we choose to accept that we all are in need of support, the sooner we can stand on common ground about what is really important.
Let’s learn to neutralize the parts of ourselves that should require less of our attention and instead shift our energy toward the things that build our life in ways that will help us find healing, connection, purpose and love.
Macy Cassera is a life coach and freelance writer who helps others rebuild after loss and change so they can create a fulfilling and authentic life full of purpose. To get in touch with Macy, please send her an email or send a message through her official website or Instagram.