Body positivity is a bit of a buzzword, and it has been for several years now.
But what actually is it?
For those who don’t know, body positivity is where you love and accept your body, regardless of size, shape, skin tone, gender and physical ability. The concept originated in the 1960s as a movement advocating for fat rights, combating the thriving diet culture and unrealistic beauty standards of the time period. Not much has changed right?........ At the very forefront of the movement were black women, disabled people and LGBTQ+ people, making it a safe and discrimination-free movement where all marginalised people could thrive.
While the movement has made the world a far kinder and more inclusive place, recently there has been some rejection of the body positive mentality, in favour of a different outlook - leading to the introduction of the term ‘Body Neutrality’.
Body positivity places a large focus on loving yourself wholly, despite the toxic standards that society enforces. This is really tricky - when the entire world is telling you that you need to completely change the way you look to be beautiful, accepting and loving yourself just the way you are is really difficult. This feeling can seem to be amplified for those living with eating disorders - your mind is entirely consumed with thoughts of what you should do to change your body. So it can seem like too much of a stretch to jump straight from this mindset to a body positive one. However with the introduction of body neutrality, it is becoming increasingly easier to have a healthy relationship with your body in a way that isn’t so immediately confronting.
So what is body neutrality, and what is the difference between it and its counterpart, body positivity?
Coined by certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor Anne Poiror, the term ‘Body Neutrality’ gained traction around 2015. Poiror believed that to have a good relationship with our bodies, we didn’t have to love them 24/7. We simply just had to make peace with them.
Body neutrality is important because it offers a different outlook from Body positivity - one that allows you to place the focus away from your body itself, viewing it as simply a vessel that contains your soul. It is important because it is about making peace with your body, about accepting it the way it is and not punishing yourself for it. For those with eating disorders who are really struggling to love their body and/or deal with weight gain in recovery, this can be a great option instead of body positivity.
The purpose of this piece is to promote a ‘right’ choice - if you can’t see yourself loving and accepting yourself flaws and all, body neutrality might be a more realistic goal. Body neutrality offers a new way of thinking that could change the way some people view their bodies - for the better.
West, M 2022, What to know about the body positivity movement, Medicalnewstoday.com, Medical News Today, viewed 11 October 2022, <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/body-positivity#what-is-body-positivity>
fenneld 2022, What’s the Difference Between Body Positivity and Body Neutrality?, Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials, Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials, viewed 11 October 2022, <https://health.clevelandclinic.org/body-positivity-vs-body-neutrality/>.
Jackson-Gibson, A 2021, What Is Body Neutrality? Experts Explain Why It’s Worth Practicing, Good Housekeeping, Good Housekeeping, viewed 11 October 2022, <https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a36865992/what-is-body-neutrality/>.
Kessel, A 2018, The rise of the body neutrality movement: ‘If you’re fat, you don’t have to hate yourself’, the Guardian, The Guardian, viewed 13 October 2022, <https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jul/23/the-rise-of-the-body-neutrality-movement-if-youre-fat-you-dont-have-to-hate-yourself>.