Our thoughts, emotions, and experiences each play a role in how we feel about our bodies. Unfortunately, the dance industry is saturated with idolized body beliefs that can challenge a dancer’s body image and self-confidence. When we spend much of our time thinking negatively about our bodies, we become conditioned to think that these thoughts are our reality. Negative self-talk is both unhelpful and likely to contribute to disordered eating habits.
To begin the work of improving their body image and ultimately feeling confident in their bodies, dancers need to consider tools that will support the journey. But with terms like “body positivity,” “body neutrality,” and “body acceptance” being tossed around social platforms, it can be difficult to decipher which to focus on. This article will deconstruct these various terms to help dancers strategize their journey towards body confidence.
What Is Body Positivity?
We commonly attribute body positivity to feeling joyous and happy about our here and now bodies. But Colleen Werner, a therapist, and mental health coach explains that this version of body positivity is “diluted.” According to Werner, body positivity is actually rooted in social justice and “created out of the fat liberation movement first led by fat queer Black women and femmes.” Bottom line: it’s “much bigger and needs to center marginalized bodies.”
Is Body Acceptance The Ultimate Goal?
In a previous article, I discuss 3 actionable steps that dancers can utilize along their journeys toward body acceptance. But striving for body acceptance can feel overwhelming when immersed in a culture that unfortunately idealizes only one body type. Werner encourages dancers to consider “fostering body neutrality over body acceptance.” Werner believes that “language is key in empowering folks to heal their relationships with their bodies, and the word ‘neutrality’ over the word ‘acceptance’ has a less intimidating connotation.” According to Werner, “…striving for neutrality can often feel much more approachable and less intimidating.”
What Is Body Neutrality?
Body neutrality allows us to live as we are, without over-thinking our body’s weight, shape, and size. It alleviates self-judgment and internal ridicule. Body neutrality also lessens the pressure of having to whole-heartedly *accept* our bodies, but can simultaneously be part of one’s journey towards eventually getting there.
If you’re experiencing a day when self-love seems a bit out-of-reach (this can be hard to avoid in our culture!), then striving for body neutrality versus body acceptance can make us feel less discouraged. Werner provides us with two journaling prompts for fostering body neutrality. Ask yourself:
- Who is profiting off of you hating your body?
- What is something that your body does for you that you are grateful for?
When encouraging dancers to neutralize negative self-talk, the phrase “we are what we think” comes to mind. In order to transform negative thoughts and feelings, we must crowd them out with more helpful alternatives. Enter affirmations. By definition, affirmations describe factual attributes that offer emotional support. Whether you believe them or not, take a second to build a list of personal affirmations. Over time, these thoughts can help you condition yourself to a more neutral and subsequent useful mindset. Cultivating a mindset that encompasses kind and compassionate thoughts is one of the best ways to transform our beliefs and create a new mental script. If you’re looking to move closer to a place of self-love, then sign up for my 5 Days To Body Confidence Challenge. You’ll join hundreds of dancers who are making strides towards body neutrality and even body acceptance.
25+ Body Neutral Affirmations
- I may not love my body yet, but I can feel strong in my body no matter its size.
- The number on the scale doesn’t reflect me or my dance abilities.
- My body makes me special and unique.
- Body acceptance is a journey and I’m on it.
- I enjoy feeling good about my body.
- If I don’t feel good about my body, I can strive for body neutrality.
- My current self is enough.
- I am grateful for my body.
- I am thankful for my strength.
- I don’t have to love my body, but I can respect it.
- My body deserves nourishing food, always.
- My body allows me to experience the world; that’s awesome.
- My body deserves to be taken care of with nourishing meals.
- My body doesn’t deserve negative ridicule.
- I am learning how to love my body.
- I love delicious food and there is no shame in that.
- I want to treat my body with love and respect.
- I give my body permission to change.
- I am more than the food I eat.
- I believe that I can find peace with my body.
- I believe that I can truly love my current self.
- The foods I eat do not reflect my self-worth.
- I give myself permission to feel satisfied with my food choices.
- There is no such thing as one perfect or ideal body type.
- What I ate yesterday does not dictate what I eat today.
- I possess the qualities needed to be successful in whatever I choose to do.
Just a note: while body neutrality can aid our personal journey towards body acceptance, it shouldn’t derail from our need to challenge implicit biases. One’s use of body neutrality should include a reevaluation of oppressive body standards and challenge systemic fatphobia. To learn more about the harmful implications of diet culture and weight stigma, read this article.