Body Neutrality: I Accept My Body Exactly as it is Right Now
Updated: Aug 9
Body positivity – something we should all strive for, right? Well, although body positivity may work for some, it doesn't work for all. Even with the body positivity movement working to combat the unrealistic beauty standards of bodies, body image issues haven’t become less common or destructive to people’s lives. There is nothing wrong with loving ourselves, and loving our bodies! But it is important to understand what that means. We should be able to show gratitude, happiness, and appreciation to our bodies, without needing to absolutely one hundred percent love every inch of it, all the time. Body neutrality takes that pressure away, and for many, may feel like a much more approachable goal. Body neutrality is defined as accepting our bodies as vessels that carry us through life, without attaching a positive or negative view onto our physicality” (1). While focusing on what your body can do for you, rather than the shape it physically takes, you can work towards body neutrality. You don’t have to always love your body, but you don’t have to hate it either.
Body Neutrality vs. Body Positivity
The main idea of body positivity is to love your body, no matter what it looks like. Although this is a great goal, the focus is still on the physical appearance of your body, which does not work for everyone. For many, body positivity has not been sufficient enough to combat negative body image issues. Body positivity states that everyone is beautiful, whereas body neutrality states that everyone just is. (2). In the body neutrality mindset, you do not have to love your body every second of every day, but you can still respect it. You can accept your body, even when you don’t love it. Body neutrality emphasizes that you can exist in your body, without thinking too much about how it looks. For example, thinking more about your body’s abilities and non-physical characteristics. We are more than just our physical body, even if we do love it. With creating the idea that you do not need to love, or even like, your body, body neutrality may seem like a more achievable mindset for many people. This is not to say that body positivity is not a great goal, because it is! It just isn’t always realistic for everyone.
How to Incorporate Body Neutrality
Body neutrality means taking a holistic approach to your body. This could mean thinking of your stomach as what helps you digest food and gives you energy throughout the day, rather than worrying about the size of it (1). Additionally, it means doing things that feel good for your body. This could be going for a mindful walk, not to ‘burn off’ what you ate, but instead because it feels good. Additionally, this could mean choosing to wear clothes that feel good on your body (2). Overall, body neutrality consists of listening to your body. Listening to what it wants to eat, when it wants to relax, or when it wants to move! Remember that body neutrality does not happen overnight. It takes time to shift from a totally negative perspective, or a false positive perspective, to a more neutral midpoint on your body. Here are a few body neutrality affirmations you can use! ● My appearance does not determine my self worth
● My body is a tool for living my life, not an object to be judged
● I respect my body, even on challenging days
● My body enables me to laugh and share joy
● I appreciate my body for the strength it provides
Finding What Works Best for You
For many, body neutrality takes the pressure off to always love our bodies. It can be a more authentic and empowered approach to body acceptance, rather than forcing yourself towards body positivity. Again, this is not to say that body positivity is not a great goal. It is finding what works best for you, whether that is body positivity, body neutrality, or body love. Maybe even incorporating both ideas, depending on the day, may work best for someone. We are ever-changing human beings, and by incorporating both ideas, you can select the approach most in line with your thinking that day. Overall, the two perspectives do share the same idea of: you are inherently a worthy and lovable person, regardless of your physical body.
By: Ali Green
Social Media Intern
The Grove Counseling & Consulting, LLC
1. You don’t have to love or hate your body. here’s how to adopt ‘body neutrality.’ (2022) The Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2022/02/25/body-neutrality-definition/ (Accessed: 25 June 2023).
2. Person (2021) How to shift from ‘body positivity’ to ‘body neutrality’ - and why you should, Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/body-neutrality#neutrality-vs-positivity (Accessed: 25 June 2023).