What Is Body Neutrality?
(And How Is It Different From Body Positivity?)


January 30, 2024

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The body positivity movement has helped countless people learn to love their bodies no matter what they look like, but even this impactful movement has its critics. While it’s a positive influence to many, some argue that the body positivity movement focuses too much on appearance, and that a new approach should be adopted instead – something called body neutrality.

What is body neutrality?

Body neutrality focuses on the function of the body instead of its appearance. Body neutrality discourages both loving your body unconditionally and viewing it in a negative way, and instead promotes focusing on your body’s functionality. Instead of loving your body for how it looks as you do in the body positivity movement, you’re encouraged to respect your body for what it does, and how that functionality helps you embrace the world.

Why is the body neutrality movement gaining momentum?

The body positivity movement has been criticized for going too far in the direction of positivity, to the point where it’s unrealistic. Being overly positive can put a lot of pressure on people to feel a certain way, which can betray their actual feelings and be harmful to their mental health. In addition to being harmful to mental health, carrying extra body weight can also be harmful to a person’s physical health.

The body positivity movement was also criticized for displaying a lack of diversity. Most participants on social media seemed to be young, white, cisgender, able-bodied people, excluding other groups and making them feel unrepresented. Both supporters and critics of the movement essentially had one depiction of what body positivity looked like, and it often didn’t look anything like them. Body neutrality, on the other hand, focuses on a body’s function instead of its appearance, putting less of an emphasis on how its supporters should look and more of an emphasis on how they should act and feel.

How do I achieve body neutrality?

Try these tips to achieve body neutrality:

  • Exercise for your mental and physical health, not to achieve a specific appearance.
  • Eat what feels right for your body and ditch any appearance-based fad diets.
  • Replace critiques of your body with body-neutral affirmations about the functionality of your body. Replace “I wish my thighs were slimmer” with “My legs are strong and help me get where I need to go.”
  • Focus on how you feel, not on how you look.
  • Wear clothes for comfort and functionality, not for appearance.

All of this isn’t to say that the body positivity movement isn’t without merit. As mentioned, practicing body positivity has helped countless people take control of and enjoy their lives. Body positivity is not better or worse than body neutrality, they are just different approaches. Body positivity might even work better for you if it makes you feel good. Your approach should bring light to your life, not feel like a burden. You can also adopt a hybrid of the two approaches if that suits you the best.

Check out more helpful information on feeling like your best self on our blog.

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