You’ve probably seen them—pro-body, pro-curves quotes or illustrations on your Insta feed or while scrolling through Pinterest. They’re usually images of all different shaped bodies or phrases about self-love, how your body ≠ your worth, and countless other encouraging tidbits. Even clothing companies have finally listened to consumers and hired body diverse models. The body positive movement is here.
Body positivity has already begun to morph into something new called body neutrality. Let’s break down the differences and what the body neutrality movement can do to foster a better relationship between you and what you see in the mirror.
You Are More than a Number
Let’s get a few things out in the open. While the body positivity movement is often championed by women, it calls out to everyone. It’s stimulated plenty of positive, healthy conversations about the negative consequences of a diet culture. It serves as a reminder that everyone’s body composition is different and unique. A key pillar of body positive thinking is the unshakable belief that you are more than a number, more than a size on a tag, more than an amount on the scale. Sure, checking your weight or having a goal size can give you something to work toward, but it’s so easy in today’s culture to become obsessed about being a certain number. This negative relationship can lead to poor self-image, struggling mental health, and negative self-talk. Realizing this, really owning it, can help your mental health so much. Always remember, you are a complex, valuable, worthy person. Leave the numbers to the mathematicians.
A Love-Hate Relationship
Plenty of body positivity social media posts tell stories of how someone hated their big thighs until they started doing more squats; now they love their strong, toned legs. #BodyPositive posts usually mention “love” quite a bit. Actually, if you follow the hashtag for a while, you’ll see a pattern emerge, and it goes something like this: “I used to hate [insert body part/shape/look], but now I love [same body part].” This can clearly be a bit polarizing. We can push and push to love our bodies, but there may be some aspects we’re not happy about no matter how hard we try.
Rather than love or hate a part of yourself, body neutral language focuses on accepting that roll/area/attribute for what it is, how it functions, or makes you unique. There are some things we cannot change about our bodies, and frankly, we shouldn’t have to change. Instead of labeling yourself or others, body neutrality conveys non-judgmental thoughts about our bodies without calling them “good” or “bad,” or something to love or hate.
For some, obsessing over the need to love their body can be just as damaging and discouraging as poor body image. The pressure to love all the parts of yourself can be intense. Maybe you’ve come to love one aspect of your body, but there’s still an area you want to improve and forcing yourself to love it just isn’t working. How draining is that? Enter body neutrality, rooted in the belief there’s a way to not obsess over the imperfect parts of you. Instead, you focus neutral energy toward your body and accept yourself as you are.
Breaking Down Body Neutral Thinking
Body neutrality isn’t the absence of caring about your body, it’s simply about letting it be the way it is.
Examples of how to shift your energy:
- Acknowledge any negative self-talk.
- Validate what your body does for you.
- Accept your body for what it is right now.
As you shift your thinking to a non-judgmental middle ground, don’t forget to appreciate all your body carries you through each day. Human anatomy is an amazing system, and being able-bodied is something no one should take for granted. Look at yourself with neutral eyes and realize you can accomplish so much with the body you have, exactly the shape, size, and way you are right now.