Proud2Bme | Is Body Love Just Another Form of Body Obsession?

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Is Body Love Just Another Form of Body Obsession?

By Dana Land--Humans are obsessed with their bodies. Why shouldn’t we be? We only get one body and it requires adequate attention to keep it functioning and to keep us happy and healthy.

A recent article in Yahoo! Beauty asked, “Is body love just another form of body obsession?” The article goes into detail, citing statistics about body positivity, body negativity and body neutrality. It then quotes Suzanna Weiss, who believes that there are areas other than the body that are important and could be given more attention. Because of this, she believes that body neutrality is the best way to go.

It is true that on our path to loving ourselves, we should make it a point to love ourselves in our entirety. Obsession over any single aspect can quickly turn unhealthy—however, that does not mean that neutrality must then be the only choice.

Love and hate are feelings that can be felt in varying degrees. Body positivity and self-love do not have to turn into obsessive behaviors. The Yahoo! article states, “Instead of working to accept how much space every part of my body takes up, I’d much rather give my body less space in my mind.”

While body positivity requires a lot of mental effort, and it may seem a little obsessive, once you begin to truly love and accept your body, you no longer need to devote constant mental space towards the action of loving your body. Your body positivity and love shine through in other ways—listening to your body when it tells you that you are hungry, taking a break when you are exhausted and knowing your physical and mental limits. The big concept of self-love naturally incorporates itself into smaller aspects of your everyday life. It no longer requires constant mental attention, and at the same time, it is not neutral.

If we look at body positivity as the relationship between ourselves and our bodies, we can see it in the same terms as the relationships in other areas of our lives. We can obsessively hate or love our bodies and show that in our relationship—or we can be neutral. Some examples of how that may look are below.

Body Negativity (hating your body)

Obsessive: Seeking out perceived body flaws to criticize multiple times throughout the day to the point where it becomes hard to focus on anything else. Your self-worth is impacted by this negative relationship.

Passive: Ignoring all information that your body tries to give you, such as hunger cues and exhaustion, because you don’t trust your body. You only provide for it when you absolutely have to.

Body Positivity (loving your body)

Obsessive: Ignoring all other traits to focus only on your relationship with your body and how to improve it. It becomes hard to notice any other positive qualities about yourself. Your self-worth is impacted by this relationship and may suffer on days of difficult positivity.

Passive: You listen to the information your body has to give you, such as hunger and exhaustion cues. You respond appropriately when prompted with kindness and understanding because you know your body is equipped to help you care for it.

Body Neutrality

There is only one way to be neutral to your body, and that is to ignore it. It’s possible that your attention is only brought to it when something is going wrong.

If you look at your relationship with your as though it were a relationship with another person, the most effective relationship seems to fall under body positivity. And, like your relationship with another human being, you can take that to extremes or keep it at a healthy level. A healthy relationship isn’t based on the idea of keeping it out of your mental space. To foster a healthy relationship, you should give it attention and love, while also giving it space to exist on its own.

My personal life is highly-structured because of my jobs. Most of my mealtimes are determined by my jobs, so I eat on a schedule. This could be considered passive. However, I also listen to my body; when it tells me I need an extra snack, I allow my attention to be brought back to my body. I show it love and care and attend to its needs—just as I would with a child that I nanny. For me, this is an act of body love without body obsession.

If I am feeling particularly enthusiastic about the way my body looks on a certain day, I will take that extra selfie and post it online. I would do the same with a friend who I’m excited about seeing. I will allow my body to take up mental space without becoming obsessed with it. This steady sense of love, like what you would get from a stable friendship, can be maintained even on a difficult day. If body positivity swings into obsession, it may crash on those days when your body is hard to love. If you are neutral to your body, it may become too easy to swing into that body negativity.

Is body love just another form of body obsession? Maybe. Sometimes. It can be. Your relationship with your body is just as complex as your relationship with a friend. It takes time, effort and self-awareness to keep it within a healthy medium. Showing yourself and your body love throughout the day is the key to remaining in a healthy relationship with yourself—one in which your worth isn’t based on an obsession with self.

About the blogger: Dana Land is a junior at DePaul University. She is a support group leader and eating disorder advocate. If you look at her Instagram, you might think she is obsessed with herself—but she swears it’s just because she recently got her hair done and wants to make sure the stylist knows she loves it.

Also by Dana:

Recovery Takes Time: Why I’m No Longer Ashamed of Taking Medical Leave


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