My own story with body acceptance started 10 years ago when I was diagnosed with two chronic illnesses. My weight and body size fluctuate depending on whether I am sick or healthy. At one point, I gained over 40 lbs from getting my health back. I could never shake the feeling of failure when I gained weight, even though it meant I was healthy.
I embarked on a journey to learn how to feel neutral about my body to stop it from ruling my life. Years later, I’ve devoted my life to helping women who have gone through difficult changes to feel comfortable in their skin. I hope this article helps you take meaningful action toward body neutrality. Taking action is the best way to prove to yourself that you are worthy of a life without being at war with your body.
1. Set Strong Boundaries With Social Media
Each year, social media causes the percentage of women and girls with low self-esteem and eating disorders to increase. It’s easy to spend hours scrolling through other people’s highlight reels and fall into the trap of self-comparison. Changing our feeds and setting boundaries with scrolling is one of the easiest and quickest things we can do for our body acceptance.
Start by reviewing who you’re following
About every four months, go through your feed and unfollow accounts you no longer like. It’s easy to feel the pressure to keep following people just because we started, but we can stop anytime we want. Comparing yourself to someone you know is enough reason to mute them, even a friend. Set a boundary to avoid engaging with accounts that hurt your mental health. Let yourself scroll without feeling like shit.
Bonus: fill your feed with positive influence. Follow people who talk about your interests. Follow celebrities. Follow who makes you happy. I follow therapists, friends, a few business pages, and makeup artists.
Give your brain a break
Limiting social media use daily is crucial to not getting caught in the comparison cycle. It’s essential to give our brains a break each week to reset, even when it doesn’t feel needed. Maybe we were feeling the pressure to show up, intense self-comparison, and didn’t even know it until we had space to think about it. Taking weekends off can give us that room to breathe and work through feelings we may not have even been aware of. I like to also set ‘scrolling hours’ for myself—between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.
Like anything new, these action items will take time to become a habit. Practice self-compassion for the moments you break them and continue again the next day.
2. Practice Neutral Affirmations
My unpopular opinion on body confidence? Not everyone is ready to be confident in their bodies. And that’s OKAY! Many start their body acceptance journey after years of self-hatred, and jumping to confidence can be a giant leap. That’s where neutral affirmations come in!
The point of neutral affirmations is to take away the pressure of self-love and work simply on feeling neutral about ourselves. Neutral affirmations come in handy when negative body thoughts don’t stop.
Imagine this: you wake up tomorrow morning and start getting dressed. Nothing seems to fit the way you want, and your body becomes at fault. Many fitness gurus would give you the magical advice to ‘just love yourself.’ But we can’t always pretend the thoughts aren’t there.
Instead, we can practice a neutral affirmation: “I may not like how I look today, but that is okay. I don’t have to love my body to have a great day.”
A neutral affirmation is much easier to tell ourselves on a bad day rather than “I’m so beautiful, and my body is sexy!” The goal is to get to that, but realistically, not every day will be that easy. While body confidence is about loving our bodies, body neutrality is about taking the focus away from the body altogether and highlighting other qualities.
3. Do a closet clean-out
Over the years, I have spoken to many women about body image, and I have yet to hear one person regret clearing clothes that no longer fit them out of their closet. It often turns out to be one of the most empowering steps of a body acceptance journey. Cleaning out the clothes that are too small, like that ‘goal’ dress and those jean shorts from when we were 18, is liberating. When we let go of the clothes, we also let go of the obligation to lose weight just to fit into them. We can finally find clothes that fit us, rather than stressing out about fitting into the clothes. Doing a closet clean-out can be daunting. Here’s how to make it easier:
Don’t pressure yourself to get rid of everything right away.
Some items you may want to keep. Some you may not be sure about just yet. Simply take the first step and remove small items from your closet. Not everything has to happen instantly. It’s a process.
Resell nicer items on a site like Poshmark.
Reselling on a consignment site like Poshmark can help recoup some financial loss and ensure the item will be used by someone else. You can even use the reselling funds to buy new things that fit better. I use the website often, and they make it super easy to ship items by sending you pre-paid mailing labels.
Use this as an opportunity to find your style.
Challenge yourself only to buy new items that fit within your style. Being selective about purchases ensures we’ll get more use out of them. I like to keep a running list of every item I want to buy, and I know I’ll use it if I still want to buy it months later. Make a pact to stop impulse purchasing and think thoughtfully about what you want.