Jameela Jamil, patron saint of reminding the world that we live in a superficial and sexist society as if she were the first to discover that, is taking her “activism” in a slightly different direction. For the past few years she has chastised celebrities for their use of dangerous weight loss products, magazines for using Photoshop, and aligned herself with the body positivity movement. But these days, she’s into body ambivalence.
In a Glamour cover story Jamil says she’s embracing body ambivalence or body neutrality. “I don’t think about my body ever,” she says. “And because of that, I swear to God, I never would have been able to have this success that I have now. It opened up all this time because I spent hours a day thinking about my food.”
She wants you, above all, to just stop thinking about it. “Imagine just not thinking about your body. You’re not hating it. You’re not loving it,” she says. “You’re just a floating head. I’m a floating head wandering through the world.”
Easier said than done, Jamil. She’s also not the first person to embrace this idea. As the body positivity movement, which began with the radical fat acceptance movement of the 1960s, has been co-opted recently by women of totally socially-acceptable, skinny shapes and sizes who think the movement is just for anyone who feels good or wants to show off their armpit hair, body positivity has lost its radical ethos. In the space where the buzzword once lived, body neutrality has moved in.
“The body positive movement doesn’t put people with disabilities and other marginalised bodies into the foreground,” writer Rebekah Taussig told the Guardian in a piece on the term. “Body neutrality, I think, has the power to be really useful in particular to people with disabilities, especially those with chronic pain or people with diagnoses that are progressive. Those people are pretty frustrated with the demand to love their bodies when they feel betrayed by them. Being neutral could feel like a relief.”