COLUMN: Body positivity starts from body neutrality


Elise Keane, Columnist

I have always had an interesting relationship with my body. Starting at a young age I knew that there was something different about the way that I viewed my body compared to others. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I experience gender dysphoria. For me, gender dysphoria is an intense discomfort between the body I am in and my gender. I view my body as inherently female, even though I don’t feel like a woman.

This led to me wearing nothing but sweatpants and hoodies as a way to cover all the parts of my body that I didn’t want to see. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a girlish figure staring back at me, but it never looked like what I imagined myself to be.  

I hated what I looked like. There were days where I wanted to tear the chest off my body. Eventually, I knew that I needed to say something about it to someone. So, I talked to my therapist. She gave me the official diagnosis of gender dysphoria and we started to work on it. 

There is no cure for the pain I experience, but there are things to elevate it. For me it started with the idea of body neutrality. It is the concept that you can exist with your body without thinking about it. Your body is neither good nor bad and it is just a body.  

This took a lot of time to understand. I had to rework every negative thought that came into my head about my body. I wish my thighs were smaller would have to turn into my thighs get me to the places I want to go. Slowly, I was able to turn the negatives into neutrals.  

Now, I am trying to get to a place of body positivity. I’ve found that the hardest parts for me to accept are the parts of my body that changed during quarantine. They felt like a constant reminder of all the horrible things that happened during lockdown. I want nothing more than to put it all behind me, but my stretch marks and stomach stare back at me every day with a reminder. However, recently I realized that during that time my body also transitioned into an adult one.  

I am no longer the child that I was when we first entered quarantine. Of course my body was going to change. I am the happiest I have ever been, and my body took every step to get there. My body deserves appreciation for that.  

Immediately shifting my thoughts from negative to positive felt like an impossible task, but when I replaced the negative thoughts with neutral ones, I felt like I had ownership over my journey. It became a lot easier to manage. Soon the neutrals will turn into positive ones.

Elise Keane is a sophomore neuroscience major. They can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].