When I had a baby last summer — my first, a healthy boy — I knew that my body would be in rough shape afterward. Or, as my mother put it when I gingerly tried on
I didn’t expect how easy it was to take her advice. Maybe it was hormones, or the immersion of parenting a newborn, or a new appreciation for what my body could do, but I felt surprisingly sanguine about my wobbly physical state.
At six weeks postpartum, I was cleared to start exercising, and a well-meaning nurse assured me that my “extra weight” would “fall off” once I resumed cardio. Instead of testing out her theory, I took slow, sunny walks with my baby napping in his stroller. I wasn’t exactly revelling in my loose skin, but I wasn’t bothered by it either. To my surprise, I didn’t care much about it at all.
There’s a name for this concept: body neutrality, or the ability to accept and respect your body even if it isn’t the way you’d prefer it to be. The term was popularised by Anne Poirier, a body-image coach and the author of “The Body Joyful,” who began using it in 2015 to help her clients build a healthier, more in-tune relationship to food and exercise. “Body neutrality prioritises the body’s function, and what the body can do, rather than its appearance,” she explained. “You don’t have to love or hate it. You can feel neutral towards it.”