We know you’ve heard the term “body positivity” before—we talk about it on our own site. Basically, body positivity is a relatively new concept-turned-social movement that encourages everyone to have a positive body image, regardless of shape, age, gender, or size. Positivity and self-love always.
It challenges traditional ideals of “beauty” and has uprooted the way society views, advertises, and talks about people’s (well, mainly women’s) physical appearance. We’re seeing more diversity in our ads, more inclusivity in our language, and a LOT more self-love and authenticity on social media. All this is great.
And we love the idea of body positivity. It absolutely has its place, and we are all about encouraging everybody to love themselves.
But we recently heard a new term called body neutrality, and we wanted to talk about how it can help us on days when we aren’t feeling 100% amazing.
The case for body neutrality
The thing is, no one truly feels positive about their body all the time. Well, at least no one we’ve ever met.
Insecurity and days where you feel a bit blah about yourself are normal, and it’s OK to not feel gorgeous every day. And on days like those, no matter what anyone says or what you do, nothing seems to sit the way you want.
There have also been suggestions that constantly repeating positive affirmations at yourself –on days when you don’t actually believe them-- can have the opposite effect on your mind.
This means that for some, pushing for 100% body positive thoughts can lead to negative outcomes and still result in body scrutiny, just a different kind: “Are my curves the right kind of curves?” Or even make people feel guilty on those normal blah days.
Something to think about could be a new idea called body neutrality, which is slowly gaining traction in mainstream media and in the social media world.
Breaking down body neutrality
When we talk about loving our body, we also need to include the most important muscle we have... our brains and minds.
Where body positivity is about loving your body regardless, body neutrality is more about simply accepting your body and appreciating it for what it can do.
Here’s how it works.
You try to focus not just on what your body looks like, but also on what it can do for you. On certain days we feel good about our body; other days we feel no- so-hot, but we can always respect it.
So when Demi Lovato posted this unedited image of herself in a bikini, and the internet went wild supporting her, that was body positivity.
Lots of her followers posted their own pictures of their insecurities, celebrating themselves, and it was a big, beautiful, body-positive lovefest. And we are HERE FOR IT.
On the flip side, if someone else would feel better disconnecting from it and taking a long walk to appreciate their legs and how strong they are (instead of how they look), that’s healthy too. And that’s body neutrality.
Regardless of what you perceive your “flaw” to be, the goal of body neutrality is to free up any mental energy that is being channelled into worrying and funnel it instead into self-acceptance.
So you can acknowledge any negative thoughts you might have, then reframe them into something more useful.
Emotional health perks of body neutrality
Embracing body neutrality is not always easy. It takes a lot of practice to break lifelong habits of self-criticism.
But letting go of strong emotions relating to appearance can be extremely freeing and lead to a much happier, heathier state of mind.
Psychologists tell us that by lowering stress, we can decrease anxiety, sleep better, feel more in control, and even feel more present in our lives and in our relationships.
How to actually put body neutrality into practice
It’s easier said than done. Realistically, we still have to contend with society’s ideals and expectations, as well as well-meaning but unhelpful comments from other people about appearances. “Oh wow, have you lost weight?” These aren’t going anywhere.
But appreciating the way your body works and being mindful and intentional every day about what kind of self-talk you will allow into your headspace could lead you into a new phase of acceptance.
Ultimately, we think there’s a place for body positivity and body neutrality, so we’re going to give neutrality a try on those days when we need to practice a little extra self-love. Want to join us?
We’d love to know what you think.
Join us on Instagram for more tips on self-love, body neutrality, or just to say hey!
Or read about founder Dani’s experiences learning to embrace and accept her own body and how body neutrality played a big part for her during her biggest body change.