Body positivity vs body neutrality

Do you love your body? Not a lot of people do, but instead of loving or loathing there is a third option. Body neutrality.

Body trends come and go, just like other any other trend. Take the Kardashian/Jenner family for example. They were the role models of the ‘curvy thin’ body type, which emphasised large hips and butts, but with tiny waists and thigh gaps. Now though, thin is back in after Kim’s shocking weight loss regime to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s famous ‘Happy Birthday’ dress.

With all this pressure on women to conform to particular body types and standards, it’s easy to start nit picking areas of our bodies and even starting to hate them. What follows is a sad spiral into body negativity, which has been linked to disordered eating, body dysmorphic disorder and mood disorders (among other things).

Body positivity fights back

The whole body positive movement has its roots, like many social movements do, in the 1960s. It actually started as a Fat Rights Movement that advocated against fat discrimination, and it’s a fight that’s still going on to this day.

Body positivity, to put it simply, is all about embracing and loving every part of your body. It’s all about saying “yeah, I have a few tummy rolls it’s still beautiful” instead of scrutinising it and wishing it were another way.

With social media, body positive stars like Lizzo and Ashley Graham, as well as other influences, are pushing back against the skinny girls who flood our feeds (yep, I’m looking at you ‘That Girl’ or ‘Lucky Girl… or whatever trend is coming next).

The result is that more plus size models and stars are gracing the covers of historically fat phobic publications like Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health. We’ve even got plus size mannequins with brands like Nike, although not everyone is particularly happy about that.

But what if you struggle to love your body? There’s always neutrality

Another contender in the sphere of body acceptance is body neutrality. Being body neutral is all about accepting what your body does for you, rather than how it looks.

So, instead of looking your thighs and thinking ‘they’re too wobbly’ (negative) or ‘they’re wobbly and I love them how they are’ (positive) you might think ‘my thighs have the strength to walk me wherever I want to go’ (neutral).

Body neutrality only started gaining traction a few years ago, as opposed to body positivity’s 50 year history. In fact, I feel that neutrality verges onto appreciation, as you can practice gratitude for the simple (but very complex from a biological standpoint) things that it does for us, like helping us breathe, solve problems and feel emotions.

Body positivity and body neutrality can work hand in hand

Let’s say that you love certain parts of your body, but you’re unsure about other parts. Personally, I think you can practice both positivity and neutrality with your body. Here are my top tips:

  • Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, both physically and psychologically
  • find a form that exercise that you enjoy, and re-evaluate why you’re exercising – is it to improve your the way your body looks, how your body moves or to generally improve your health?
  • In moments of doubt, reflect on all the good things your body can do – try journaling or meditating
  • Take your time – changing the relationship with your body won’t happen overnight

Thanks for reading. Sign up to Pandora’s Health to for even more advice, tips and tricks about the latest trends.

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