ETR 301: What is Body Neutrality? (Body Image Series) Revisited

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Podcast on What is Body Neutrality? (Body Image Series) Revisited
What is Body Neutrality? (Body Image Series) Revisited

In this episode of Eat the Rules, I’m revisiting the Body Image Series, talking all about body neutrality – what it is and isn’t, and what it looks like in real life, as part of the Body Image Series.

I also explore the stages people go through to get there and the key elements to getting body neutral.

In This Episode, I Talk About

  • How I discovered the term “body neutrality,”
  • That how you feel about your body isn’t static,
  • How I like to reframe body neutrality as a way to get more joy out of life,
  • That it doesn’t mean not liking how you look, but that doesn’t define who you are as a person,
  • That this evolution isn’t linear and it’s very subtle,
  • That you’ll still have bad days, but you won’t be projecting those bad feelings onto your body, which allows you to identify the actual issue,
  • How it allows you to make decisions based on what’s best for you, instead of the best way to lose weight,
  • That everyone’s journey is different and that we have to meet ourselves where we’re at,
  • That the core of this work is knowing who you are and your value outside of how you look,
  • The importance of challenging the beliefs you have and developing beliefs that support unconditional support and love for yourself,
  • That fear will always be there, but you can learn to move through it,
  • How embodiment and body neutrality go together,
  • Plus so much more!

Listen Now (Transcript Below)

Watch on YouTube

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Links Mentioned in Show


    Neutrality is more like a state of peace. Your appearance just doesn’t have that emotional charge it once had.

    This is eat the rules, a podcast about body image, self worth, anti dieting, and intersectional feminism. I am your host summer Innanen, a professionally trained coach specializing in body image self worth and confidence and the best selling author of body image remix. If you’re ready to break free of societal standards and stop living behind the number on your scale, then you have come to the right place. Welcome to the show.

    This episode of eat the rules is brought to you by you on fire you on fire is the online group coaching program that I run that gives you a step by step way of building up your self worth beyond your appearance. With personalized coaching from me incredible community support and lifetime access to the program so that you can get free from body shame and live life on your own terms. Get details on what’s included and sign up for the next cycle at summer forward slash you on fire. I’d love to have you in that group.

    This is episode 301. And I am revisiting an old episode of the podcast called what is body neutrality. In this episode, I’m talking about what I think body neutrality is, and also what it isn’t what it looks like in real life, the stages people go through to get there and the key elements to getting body neutral. I will say that I recorded the original episode at least two years ago, if not more. And I think my views have probably changed a little bit based on conversations I’ve had with people in Marchant more marginalized bodies on my own, who have talked about how they really cannot be neutral in their body. And so I want to reiterate that like, I don’t think it means not caring about your body at all, or not having an experience where your body is neutral to other people in our culture. However, I think when I talk about why neutrality, it’s really about divesting our sense of self worth from how we look. And so with that, we will revisit this episode and you can find the links mentioned at summer forward slash 301.

    I want to give a shout out to caselle who left this review. So I’ve been thinking about starting my own podcast in Polish for about two years now. But I don’t think I will since what summer is doing is the exact thing I would do a perfect mix of interviews with experts and our own knowledge put together in a way that leaves you wanting more which is where summer offers of coaching courses etc come into play. Amazing podcast that is yet another torch thrown onto the prior diet culture should be laid on a long time ago. I think it might have been might be I might have got one of those words wrong thrown onto the fire diet culture should be laid on a long time ago. I think that’s what’s been say. If you’re listening, you absolutely should start the podcast in Polish because I don’t speak Polish. So you need to reach people who maybe would not access this podcast otherwise because they would they would have no interest in an English speaking podcast. So I think that you need to do that. And even if you did do it in English, if you were from a different country, I think the more people that hear this about our So yeah, that’s just adding my two cents to that review. Anyways, you can leave a review by going to Apple podcasts search for eat the rules, click ratings and reviews and click to leave a review. You can also grab the free 10 Day body confidence makeover at summer Forward slash freebies with 10 steps to take right now to feel better in your body. If you’re a professional who works with people who also have body image struggles, then get the body image coaching roadmap for professionals at summer forward slash roadmap. Alright, let’s get started with the show.

    This is episode 214. And it’s another episode of the body image series. I’m talking all about body neutrality, what it is and isn’t what it looks like in real life, the stages people go through to get there and the key elements to getting body neutral and whether maybe it’s for you. You can find all the links and resources mentioned at summer forward slash to 14 Before we begin shout out to live laugh love 79 Who left this review. Summer I just listened to your podcast with Ashley Bennett amazing and truly inspirational. You have encouraged me more than you know to keep working on myself and building my self worth and confidence and to keep fighting this poor body image that I’ve dealt with for years. We are blessed to have you both advocating for us all keep it up somewhere you rock. Amazing. Thank you so much. I really really appreciate that. So so kind of you and

    Yeah, just so grateful to have you listening to this show. If you haven’t already done so, send me a birthday present. My birthday is in a few months, leave me a review, that’s a present. You can go to iTunes search for eat the rules, then click ratings and reviews and click to leave a review or give it a rating. You can also subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode by clicking subscribe via YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, whatever else is out there. And if you haven’t already already done so grab the free 10 Day body confidence makeover at summer Forward slash freebies with 10 steps to take right now to feel better in your body. As always, you can just go to the body image to find anything that I mentioned here. Okay, so last episode, we had a juicy discussion about what it means to really love your body and all that stuff and the mainstream messaging. And so, you know, where I kind of went with that was like this idea of just, you know, body neutrality, which is not my word, I didn’t make it up. And so you know, we’re going to talk today about what that is and isn’t what it looks like how it really ties into Health at Every Size and intuitive eating or eating what you want the stages that people go to get there, some of the key elements to getting body neutral, and whether it could be for you. So that’s what we’re going to chat about. So the word body neutrality like I, I don’t I the first person I ever heard say that was Melissa bellow.

    Feminist Wellness Educator many years ago, I tried to Google it. And it seems to start popping up online around 2015 2016. I’m not sure who said it first, Melissa was the first person I heard use that term. So if you know, let me know, if you if you know, the source. I tried Googling, but it’s it’s not really definitive. Like, it’s not like there’s a date with an article associated with anyone. So that’s the first person I heard say it. And I remember when when she said it, I was like, Yeah, cuz I talked about feeling like ambivalent, I was like body and villains. Like you just feel kind of ambivalent. And so it just kind of nailed the definition that, you know, we were looking for in terms of some language around it. And my own, you know, my own personal definition of buying neutrality. I mean, I’m always curious to know, like, what, what is body neutrality mean to you, but my own personal definition of it is really just like being in your body, instead of this outside observer and critiquer of your body. And being able to, you know, feel confident in who you are, regardless of whether you really like your body or not on a particular day. And it’s really about not letting your appearance define how you feel about yourself as a person. So it’s like, no longer having those huge emotional roller coasters attached to the way you feel about your body. Right, we all know what those are like. And I don’t believe that feelings about ourselves are static. So I don’t think you’re gonna feel like it’s not like this static way of being where you’re just neutral about your body every single day, some days, you might be feeling yourself, and other days, you may not. And you may start, like you may look in the mirror and see a wrinkle and start to panic, or something like that. I speak from experience. And that’s okay, I think it’s just, it gives you this way better sense of awareness about, you know, where your beliefs came from, what things really mean to you, and you’re able to kind of take those moments where things maybe were where you don’t feel so great in your body, and you’re able to like work your way through them because you have a much greater sense of knowing about yourself and your thoughts and your beliefs. And for the most part, you feel fairly neutral. You know, and I think it comes from not letting the way you look, make or break you. That’s something that beauty redefined, says, I, that’s like a quote from them. And that’s it. It’s like not letting the way you look, make or break you like, what a great way of putting it. And so one one of the pieces of feedback that, you know, I’ve heard from clients, which I mentioned last time is like that, you know, the notion of body neutrality is like Well, like I want more than that. And so I talked last time just about how you know, try looking at it differently and to try looking at it as a way for you to get more joy in your life you know that once you have that peace of mind like once you’re once you no longer have that stress, and that constant like background noise of the negative thoughts about your body like imagine how much more peace and joy you could have in your life if I think about you know my life experiences like let’s let’s think about like if I think about like going on vacation if I think about going on vacation when I still was like body obsessed like I literally used to like pack chicken breasts and bring them to the beach and like read diet books when I was on vacation. And I was so worried about like how I logged and dieting before oh my god, I’m getting weak because I’m eating bread and like all this bullshit and I wasn’t fully present

    In these incredible moments in my life, when I used to work a corporate job, and before I had kids, like we used to travel a bunch, and I went to these amazing places, and I look back on it, and I’m like, God, I spent so much time like feeling bad about my body when I was in these, like incredible experiences. And now, if I can ever go away again, no, we do.

    It’s just not as extravagant as it used to be used to be like, let’s go to Portugal or let’s go to Croatia. And now it’s like, let’s take the ferry an hour away, which is still great. And still something I’m super grateful for. So I’m not, I’m not minimizing that it’s just, it’s just life with kids is different. Let’s just put it that way. And so I look at it now. And I’m like, oh, gosh, like, I’m just, I’m so much more present, you know, like, everything is just so much more enjoyable. And I think that’s ultimately what we want for ourselves. And that’s what body neutrality gives you. Because life is no longer about your body, you don’t have those worries as much about your body. And so you can just be in the experience that you’re having. And our happiness is no longer dependent on how we look or loving how we look. It’s just this state of, of peace. And that’s, that’s great. And I think like, that’s the feedback I get when people have worked with me when they’ve kind of gotten to this way better place with it. That’s, that’s what they say. Like, it’s just the sense of peace and freedom. And so that’s what’s so great about it. It’s just, you’re just living your life, and having more time and energy and space in your life. And, yeah, sure, like, you can still like how you look to like, if that’s something you want to do cool. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that, or that you can’t have that I certainly like the way it looks sometimes to like out something, you know, like, if I get an outfit I really like and I’m like, Oh yeah, like, I look good in this. Like, that’s, that’s an element of it, too. But it’s not like defining who I am as a person, right. And I think that that’s the biggest difference. And so what it looks like is it’s fluid, it’s nonlinear. And it’s really subtle. Like, that’s how that’s how this change kind of happens. That’s how this evolution evolves, of evolution evolves. This is so this evolution occurs. Because the way we feel about ourselves changes all the time. Like, we’re still going to have bad days about ourselves. I still have days, like, if I haven’t had a good sleep, I basically spend the whole day panicking thinking, everybody hates me thinking my life is over, like thinking my business is falling apart, like, I go into this, like horrid inner critic rabbit hole on the days when I’m tired. So I still have those days, there’s not so much about my body. So we’re gonna still gonna have days where we feel bad about ourselves. But we’re able to then kind of identify what’s really going on, instead of projecting those feelings onto our body. So we’re able to see that maybe we feel crappy, because we’re exhausted and overwhelmed, not because of the size of our stomach, or we’re able to see that like, I’m feeling really anxious today, because I didn’t sleep last night or because this other thing in my life is going on that I’m actually really worried about. Whereas before, we might have projected those things onto our body, and been really fixated on our body and like thinking like, Okay, I just need to dye it and then everything will be okay. It really allows us to, like, uncover the roots of what’s truly going on. And the the the evolution to get to that place. It’s really nonlinear, it often feels like two steps forward, one step back. You know, when I work with people, I’m always like, ride the wave, if you’re in a good place, knowing that, like, it’s probably going to crash down and feel really bad again soon, and then you’re gonna get back on that wave. And that’s, I mean, that’s life. Like, that’s humanity that’s like, I don’t think that ever goes away. And it just becomes about something different. Because we’re just not robots, like, we’re just not going to be happy every single day, or we’re going to feel lousy, we’re going to have stresses, we’re going to have uncertainty. I think all of us just want to avoid all those things, because who wants discomfort, but unfortunately, that’s the reality of life. And these changes that happen, they happen really subtly. And if you’ve been doing this work for a while, I encourage you to like reflect back on how things used to be because you probably don’t even realize how much things have changed. Because it just becomes like this new normal. And like you don’t wake up one day and just feel like you’ve arrived, you slowly start to realize that maybe some things have shifted, if you take a moment to reflect on it. Like maybe you don’t compare yourself like you used to, or you see photos now and you’re good or you don’t need to try on 15 outfits before leaving your house like these little everyday things kind of just change like these everyday behaviors and these everyday feelings that we had before, that were always negative or always like stressful, just kind of just slowly start to disappear. And you don’t even realize it because it happens so slowly. And you know, life just kind of grows bigger around you which is which is really, really great. Where neutrality really comes into play is changing our relationship with food and health and decisions around those things because it becomes so much easier. You know when we’re

    We’re able to tune into how we feel and what our body needs, we can make those choices from a place of like, what does my body need? Versus how is this going to change the way I look? You know, because if I think about my life as a diet, or like, that’s every food decision was on, like, how is this like, is this gonna make me gain or lose weight, like that was it. And that’s not a good relationship with food. And health was entirely about the same thing. It actually was not about health, it was about fitness. So now I’m able to, like, just eat the things I want to eat, and like, okay, my body, oh, my body’s you know, really feeling like it needs some vegetables. Okay, cool. It’s like, throw some of those in there. You know, I’m eating more rest, right? Now, let’s do that more. Like, that’s, that’s how it is. It’s not about size of your body. And that’s fantastic. You know, to really like heal your relationship with food, have a good relationship with health, you got to get to that place of like rollin body neutrality, because then we can approach it from this place of like, what’s best for me? And what’s the best way for me to take care of myself versus what do I need to do to lose weight. And so I wanted to talk about the stages that people go through to get there. One thing I’ve learned in doing this work for eight years is that everyone’s journey is different. It really depends on so many factors. It depends on whether you put intention and practice into it, it depends on whether you’re doing it alone, or in a supportive environment, or community or whether you don’t have that, it depends on what other things are going on in your life. It depends on your history, the trauma that you’ve had, the fact that we all heal and process things differently. Some people are more open and familiar with feeling feelings versus other people. And so I would love to give you like, certain stages, but I don’t think it necessarily plays out that way. I think it’s just like, kind of understanding that your journey is going to look different than somebody else’s. And like, yeah, sure, there’s some things that we can control there. There’s some things like, you know, obviously, if you’re putting like, you know, effort or intention into it, then it’s probably going to, you know, that’s probably going to make a difference, or having like a supportive community like that would make a difference. But some of the stuff like it’s outside of your control, like you know, just your history or what you’ve experienced in your life, your lived experience. And I think we have to kind of like meet ourselves where we’re at and respect our respect our own journey and respect, just like that we’re that we’re human, and that it’s going to look different. And while maybe it’s easier for some people I do believe it is possible for for everyone. And I find that, you know, we start with mostly bad days, and then we get these little glimpses of more neutral or positive moments like, we start to have these little moments that feel a little more normal. And that just kind of keeps growing over time. If you feel like you’re stuck at the intellectually getting it phase, then definitely check out Episode 188, where I talk about what to do if you intellectually get it but still feel bad in your body. And so some of the key elements about really getting to a place of body neutrality. I mean, the core of it is really just like knowing, knowing who you are beyond how you look. And knowing your value beyond how you look and being really intentional about affirming that within yourself. So if I were to like compartmentalize some of these, it’s, it’s about kind of challenging the beliefs, we have to challenge the beliefs we have. I didn’t mean to say kinda it is, it’s about challenging the beliefs that you have challenged the beliefs you have about weight, about health, about what it means to be a person with a body, where those beliefs come from, what do they say about you? How can you change those? How can you kind of affirm a new belief system that really honors and supports who you are? How can you develop beliefs that support unconditional respect and love for yourself. The second piece of it is really rewiring your brain. So learning how to change that internal dialogue, how to respond to that inner critic, that negative voice and cultivate a sense of self compassion, to flip that script so that you offer yourself the same compassionate words that you offer, you know, a friend or someone you love. Another big piece of it. Third piece would be discovering who you are, you know, knowing your values, knowing your purpose, knowing the things that truly bring you a sense of fulfillment in this life, knowing the qualities that you offer this world, and affirming those things in yourself. And really using like your values and your purpose to like lead your life. fourth piece would be moving through fear, like knowing fear is going to always be there but but moving through it. So not letting fear of judgment or rejection, get in the way. And like stop giving so many facts away to what people think like and to just be able to know that some people aren’t going to like you and be okay with that. That’s how confidence is really built. And another piece of it is really normalizing how you look. So if you’re avoiding how you look, or fixating on how you look both of those things can really prevent you from feeling neutral. So depending on where you are with that if you constantly fit like

    If you’re constantly mirror checking, then trying to disrupt that habit. And if you are completely avoiding mirrors or pictures, like trying to slowly introduce yourself to those things so that when you see yourself, you’re just like, Oh, hey, there I am. And it’s not like, oh my god, what happened to me because I haven’t looked in a mirror in two months. Because that’s, that’s not helpful either. When I work with people here, it’s really individual, like, it’s really about where are you at on this kind of spectrum? And how can we slowly move you into the middle. So if you avoid mirrors, I wouldn’t suggest go take nude selfies of yourself, like, that’s not what I would suggest, I would suggest like, can you just like go look at yourself in the mirror with some clothes on and like, maybe even just look from like that shoulders up, and just start with that. So I just wanted to be clear there. And then the last piece of it is really about becoming more embodied, you know, like being in our bodies and being responsive to our bodies. And so knowing our needs and wants, knowing our desires, knowing our emotions, like getting in tune with those, and caring for ourselves, like instead of just being these detached heads that walk around, in a thought bubble constantly, like actually kind of, you know, being at one with your body, like noticing, like, Oh, my stomach kind of hurts right now, or I’m really tensing my shoulders, or like, gosh, my body really needs rest, or I need to move around a bit like I have got some energy that I need to burn, whatever those things are, you know that that level of embodiment is so key to kind of getting to a place where you can just be in your body and respond to it and your note no longer kind of looking at yourself through this like external lens. So those are really the key pieces that I generally work with people around when I’m when I’m doing this work, and they make up the framework for how I work with people and you on fire. And I think that it’s really again about like just knowing who you are, know that knowing that who you are is valuable and worthy. That’s that’s kind of unresolved there. So could body neutrality be for you? Well, I think just knowing if you look in the mirror and see a photo of yourself and feel like panic, or shame or sadness flood your body instead of just feeling neutral, then yes. If you’re constantly like longing to be in a thinner body, even though you’ve given up dieting, then yeah, neutrality is for you. If you let other people’s opinions dictate how you feel about yourself.

    Like if the thought of being criticized or judged makes you want to curl up in a ball and Hibernate then, yeah, bye neutrality could be for you. If you can’t stop comparing yourself to other people, if you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough. If you think you’ll finally feel good about yourself, like once your to do list is done. Or once you’ve like done all the things you think you should do. Like all of these things are indications that we’re hinging kind of our worth on these external things, in which case like doing work, getting to a place of buying neutrality would be so beneficial. Some other signs would be like you’re afraid of gaining weight, you spend a lot of time dieting, judging yourself doubting, doubting yourself, like you can’t accept compliments. If I asked you the question, like what makes you valuable and worthy, like you, you’re like, Oh, you don’t have an answer, then yeah, there’s there’s room there to like, really affirm your value beyond how you look. And so I wouldn’t like again, just invite you to consider that there’s this great place to be that exists when you’re just kind of in this body neutral space. And I do think we can get there with it. And it’s not there. It’s not a destination. It’s really just about practicing, like acceptance is practice, not a destination. You haven’t heard me say that a million times. Okay, so do you have any other questions about buying neutrality? Does it sound good? No. Are you in? I’m so curious to know.

    I’ve got some other stuff coming up on this, which I’m pretty excited about but wanted to do this little podcast on it for now. Got a couple more body image series podcasts coming out in the next couple of weeks. Thank you so much for listening to this one. You can find all the links and resources mentioned at summer Forward slash 214. I hope you’re having an okay January hope the world hasn’t ended. I’m recording this in December. And thank you so much for listening. I’ll talk to you next time rock on.

    Thank you so much for listening to this one. I hope you enjoyed revisiting it or hearing it for the first time you can find the links mentioned at summer forward slash 301. I will talk to you next time rock on

    I’m Summer Innanen. And I want to thank you for listening today. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook at summer Innanen. And if you haven’t yet, go to Apple podcasts search eat the rules.

    And subscribe rate and review this show. I would be so grateful. Until next time, rock on.

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