What Does It Mean to Be Body Neutral?
Updated: Aug 11, 2019
Body positivity has become a huge part of self-love lately but there’s also a new movement that you may be less aware. Body neutrality entered the equation more recently and for a lot of people struggling with self-love and positive body image, it can be a whole lot easier to achieve. If you’re not clued up on what it takes to be body neutral, here’s what it involves.
Body neutrality has a lot in common with body positivity. Both share the idea that our bodies are all totally equal and just as worthy of love and respect. Size and weight isn’t a factor in this worthiness and nor is height or physical ability. You don’t necessarily need to think of your body as being perfect; the focus is on loving your body for what it is and accepting it - no matter what.
So, how does it differ from body positivity? With body neutrality, you don’t have to feel confident and loving about your body every single second of the day. In fact, you don’t even have to feel overly positive about your body at all - you just have to accept it. This is where the “neutral” part comes in. Think of it as a midway point between hating your body and being truly positive about it.
This is a self-love movement that is based on and even embraces the fact that it’s not realistic to expect to feel positive about your body on a 24/7 basis, especially if you’re starting from a place that’s closer to self-loathing than self-love. It’s also okay if you don’t love absolutely everything about your body. It definitely doesn’t mean you’re failing at accepting your body.
The super important part is that you don’t define yourself through your body image and you don’t allow negative thoughts about your body to take over. In a nutshell, it’s all about recognizing that your self-perceptions don’t have to start and end with body image.
This isn’t going to happen overnight but the body neutrality journey is heavily linked to self-worth. And because the focus isn’t on how your body looks, it takes a different approach compared to body positivity. Instead of focusing on shape, size or other aesthetic factors, it switches your attention to what your body does for you from a physical perspective. Every part of your body does incredible things in day-to-day life. It’s a whole heap easier to feel more positive about your body when you can look at things from this perspective.
Taking care of your body, nourishing it and giving it the platform it needs to serve you well are also big parts of being more accepting of your body. This includes healthy nutrition, regular exercise that you enjoy and plenty of self-care. You’re not particularly doing any of this for aesthetic reasons. On the exercise front, think of it as a way to balance your mind and body and improve your physical health, rather than something you do to look a certain way.
If you struggle with guilt and self-blame because it just seems too hard to love your body all of the time, body neutrality could work a lot better for you. Body positivity can feel a little bit too far out of reach if you’ve had a negative relationship with your body for a long time, and a slight twist on the basic idea can feel a whole lot more realistic and achievable.
So, how can you start to embrace being more body neutral?
Work on appreciating all of the great things about your body and showing it tons of respect. This can be anything from appreciating the fact that it gets you around to being thankful for having your senses.
Not comparing yourself to other people is another big part of body neutrality. We all have different bodies and it’s not realistic or healthy to pretend otherwise.
Focusing on being healthy and not just numbers on the scales or how your body looks is super important for body neutrality. It’s about doing things because you want to, not because you feel you should be doing them.
If you do find yourself with negative thoughts about your body, don’t feel bad about yourself. Just be mindful in your approach to them and acknowledge them, without giving them any power.
Body neutrality is often a journey so don’t be disappointed if your mind doesn’t come on board with it right away.