Bethany C. Meyers
THE BODY NEUTRAL ADVOCATE SHARES HOW MOVEMENT GOES FAR BEYOND THE PHYSICAL
In a world where so many of our daily decisions are governed by the concept of "shoulds" and all its implied morality, some people choose another path—the one shaped by their own intuition about who they are and what they want. Bethany C. Meyers is one of those people. Identifying as gender non-binary, Meyers keeps it unabashedly real. And while Instagram might be an unlikely place for radical honesty, theirs abounds with scenes from a life lived boldly: dying their leg hair electric yellow in honor of LGBTQ Pride, sporting extravagant outfits that sometimes don’t involve tops or pants, an epic polyamorous wedding ceremony. The common theme is vulnerability, inclusivity and, above all, truth.
These guiding principles also show up in Meyers’ fitness method, the be.come project. The online workout is all about shifting your mindset toward one of body neutrality and loving yourself as you are. This concept was incredibly healing for Meyers, who channeled it into their recovery from an eating disorder. Be.come is movement that is celebratory rather than critical, while providing much-needed visibility to all bodies and abilities.
In their own words, Meyers gets real about letting go of fear and letting intuition lead the way.
On “letting go of the body stuff”:
“It takes a lot of work because society is set up to ensure we don't ever win. There's always something that needs to be fixed so that we spend money to fix it. That's the cycle. In becoming more body neutral, it's really created a lot more freedom in all areas of my life...especially expressing how I identify as a non-binary person. I look less at gender, and [allowed me to] flip upside down expected social norms. I don’t feel confined by them any longer. There’s major freedom in letting go of some of the body stuff.
Body neutrality looks at the body as a vessel that we live in. It puts less importance on the actual vessel and instead focuses on who we really are. I always tell people, ‘If you try to be positive about something 100% of the time, you will fail.’ I can’t think of one thing I am 100% positive about all the time. Except for maybe cheese (laughs).
With body neutrality, you realize some days I'm going to feel great about my body and love it. Some days I'm going to feel not so great about my body and maybe hate it. But all of those days I'm going to respect my body. You end up feeling less of a failure if you're not feeling so great about yourself that day.”
On finding rituals and reclaiming spirit:
“I grew up really religious. So meditation was a no-no subject. Doing things for yourself was seen as a little too selfish.
Two years ago I went on my first ayahuasca retreat. It was about trying to let go, really trying to distinguish the difference between religion and spirituality, and what it meant for me personally in my life. And after that experience, I was really able to pray again in a way that felt authentic and special to me.
I do a lot of rituals, like full moon rituals, or I always do a little ritual on New Year's Eve. And those things became more accessible to me. I love taking baths. That's my number one way to decompress and relax. There's something very spiritual about water and the cleansing of yourself, so on days I'm upset or crying, a bath is a thing that kind of releases it off of me.
I am a big fan of [marijuana]. I think THC can do some good things for you when used correctly.
I also journal, always on my birthday. I like to journal at the beginning of a new year, or when I’ve done ayahuasca, but I keep journals periodically.
There was a time when I felt like I had to journal all the time, and then I'd get stressed or mad at myself because I didn't keep it up. Do you know what I mean? Like these little type of regulations we place on ourselves, and then they don't end up working out. I think that the less we can create these unattainable ideas, and identify what makes us feel the best, that’s when we feel a shift.”
On keeping life fluid and letting intuition take charge:
“Our bodies are very intuitive. That's how they're designed to be. Evolution has designed our bodies to know what it needs. So I think that tuning into yourself is the best thing you can do for your health. For me, it looks different on a weekly basis. There may be sometimes where physically and emotionally I have to give myself elsewhere. I think the less that we create these “ideals” of what it all needs to look like, we can give in to the flow. Life is so much more fluid than what we sometimes let it be.
Studies have shown that across the world the happiest people, the people that live the longest are not the people who are doing yoga every day and eating blueberries in the morning. It's people who spend time with family and friends, who keep interests, who have a purpose, who walk a lot, who love.”
On eating with joy and intention:
“For me personally, restrictions are not a good way to go about my life.
To be candid, I’m still figuring out what feels best for me. But currently—right now—I'm in the place where I eat everything and I enjoy it. I was just in Paris, and it was the first time in my life where I wasn't scared to eat pasta. To be in a foreign country where it's all about that stuff, and not saying, ‘No I can't have that.’ There was pasta, bread, wine, and cheese the entire time, and I still felt really good.
I believe in the practice of eating with love. Eating with intention. And to say, ‘Today, I'm going to go eat this whole pint of ice cream and I'm going to be happy about it. It really does have to do with the intention that you put in.”
On the only before/after that matters:
“I decided we were going to create a company that didn't show any “before and after” pictures. That didn't message any piece of weight loss. That really focused in on how you feel.
One of my favorite stories is a client who was really struggling with body security and feeling good. She wrote to me about the day she got married. She wrote, ‘I got married and I had this amazing day. And then I got the pictures back from my wedding, and I couldn't look at the pictures because I hated my body so much and I felt like my arms looked fat, and my back looked fat. I didn't like the way I looked in my dress. I would never look at them.’
Cut to a year later, she's doing the be.come project and she was like, ‘I'm scrolling through my phone, and I came across one of my wedding pictures, and this time all I saw was how happy I was on that day. How beautiful the experience was.’
To me, that is so much more powerful than any before and after picture, because she was looking at the exact same image. That's a sign that her mindset shifted.”
On reimagining the future for young girls:
“This one woman told me about how her little girl stood on a scale, and she said, ‘I want to see how strong I am.’ Now she does our be.come project with her mom, and her mom says, yeah that's right baby, that's what that scale measures.
One of the reasons I think I'm personally here in life is just to start shifting the way that young girls see themselves. I have a ton of nieces at home, And in the community that I was raised in, there was a lot of repressions put on people who looked and felt like myself. And I so badly want them to know that they can do different things in their life. I hope to shift and strengthen the mindset of young children. I'm saying little girls, but I think kids, specifically kids who are socialized female, or kids who are more feminine based because that tends to be the group that comes up against so much oppression. I always look to be an example to them.”
“My dream in life would be able to really strike down societal beauty standards, and social norms that we have placed upon us. And helping more people realize that beauty comes in such a range of different things.”