Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Body positivity and body neutrality are two concepts or movements that have attracted a wealth of attention. Body positivity is about finding love, celebration, and acceptance for your body, no matter your weight, shape, or appearance. Body neutrality lies more in the middle. There is no end goal of loving your body; it is instead about simply finding acceptance. Body neutrality shifts the focus from physical appearance and encourages us to remove all critical beliefs we may carry about our bodies.
Body positivity encourages us to celebrate our bodies. However, body positivity can be very difficult for many, especially for those who have struggled with disordered eating, body dysmorphia, exercise addiction, eating disorders, and even chronic illness. Societal pressures can also complicate this feat. Asking someone to love their body can create unrealistic expectations and set people up for failure. So many of us spend so much time consumed with our appearance much to our detriment. As a therapist specializing in eating disorders, I have seen first-hand how the goal of body positivity can feel unattainable and leaves the individual to feel even more shame and guilt than they might already have, that they cannot achieve the goal of body positivity.
To move into body neutrality, the focus shifts to your accomplishments and strengths versus your physical appearance. Body neutrality does not mean you do not pay any attention to your body but instead noticing experiences within the body from a place of acceptance. With this movement, you are not only encouraged to find acceptance but also to stay away from positive or negative thoughts about your body and learn to respect your body. I have found that the body neutrality movement more achievable, especially when learning how to implement mindfulness in daily life. It is a complementary process. The less time we spend focused on our bodies, the more time we have to engage and present in our lives. Either way, a goal is to leave self-hate behind and welcome in the movement that works for you.
Be safe and well,