It is well-known that the Covid-19 pandemic has threatened everyone’s physical health worldwide, but it also has damaged us on a much deeper level. A recent study from the scientific journal “Personality and Individual Differences” discovered that isolation, stress, anxiety and other pandemic-induced mental health issues have aggravated difficulties with self-esteem and body image. As a result, various body-conscious movements such as Body Positivity have been reborn and redefined around newer, more women-empowering concepts such as Body Neutrality. But what does Body Neutrality mean, and how does it affect our communication-centred world?
What is Body Neutrality?
The feminist writer and activist Anuschka Rees has dived into that concept in her inspiring and encouraging book titled Beyond Beautiful. In it, she eloquently explains that the goal of Body Neutrality is “to dial down the enormous significance that has been given to physical attractiveness in our society. […] It’s not just about pushing back on the specific beauty ideals or standards of our time, but on all aspects of society that continue to promote beauty as essential, consequential and the ultimate accomplishment of worth.” Anuschka lays out a new groundbreaking way to feel happiness, confidence and self-worth that does not rely on looks, but instead on the appreciation of everything that forms oneself. With Body Neutrality, we will no longer force people into liking their appearance, but just accept it without getting fixated on it. It all comes down to making appearances less important than they seem.
How do brands apply it?
This new way of seeing the world and ourselves is setting slowly but steadily, as it is already impacting how brands and society as a whole behave. Body Neutrality is here to stay, and it is here to help us modify the language we use, the content we create and the images we portray. Some early birds in this field could be: Pinterest updating their content policies and banning body-shaming across user conversations and ads, or the be.coming fitness programme that asks users to stop posting weight loss pictures and instead log their post-workout feelings, putting words behind their fitness journeys.
How does it affect the digital world?
This, needless to say, will also affect how brands discuss and portray body shapes, sizes and figures. And, what screams modern digital body representation nowadays more than the Metaverse? Well, they have already caught on to it. Of course, they knew that avatars have had a long history as reality-modifying tools for self-conscious or mischievous people. So, to turn the situation around, lots of Metaverse products are already announcing the creation of hyper realistic avatars based on users’ real-life bodies and appearances. At first, this may be hard for users to get used to, but it could potentially prove that the Metaverse really is a body-neutral space that could help do away with complexes around our appearance. One such example of this has been brought to light by the digital illustrator Jesse Zhang and her creation Angie, a virtual influencer with normal body features, dappled with skin texture and acne scars that neutralise her overall online appearance.
As we stated in our last entry, here at Pointbleu Design we tirelessly strive to stay up-to-date with the evolving ways to represent, comprehend and view women. Because when you listen, research, fathom and embrace these emerging ideas, you can offer strategies that revolve around them. We are constantly breaking frontiers and coming up with new ways to speak to our client’s values through design, images and lovingly-told stories that fit our ever-changing world.
Do you have the courage to present yourself and your values in a body-neutral way? Could you dive deeper?
At Pointbleu we are ready to do so, and we can guide you through it.