Self

Why I Chose Body Neutrality Instead Of Body Positivity

Photo: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
happy woman posing by wall

By Laura Herndon

We’ve all heard of the body positivity movement. We see #bodypositivity on Instagram. We see belly rolls, stretch marks, and scars.

Celebrities like Lizzo are staunch advocates. Brands are realizing the business sense of featuring “real” and untouched bodies. Brands like Torrid and Aerie offer model photos that aren’t photoshopped.

RELATED: I’m So Sick Of The Body Positivity Movement Telling Me I Have To Love How I Look

However, more and more #bodypositivity hashtags are being co-opted by thin, cisgender, white women. Open Instagram or TikTok and you’ll see six-pack abs dancing to Miley Cyrus songs.

Make no mistake — if someone loves their body, that’s amazing. However, the body positivity hashtag was created for the plus-sized community.

This takeover by thin people is pushing more and more advocates to a different movement — body neutrality.

Body positivity creates a space where we’re encouraged to love every inch of our skin. However, what happens if you’re not ready for that type of self-love or simply want a different path?

If you’re looking for a space between self-love and self-loathing, body neutrality may be for you.

I started off as a body-positive advocate on my Instagram. I’d take bikini pictures with close-ups of my fat rolls and post with #bodypositivity. Meanwhile, I was sucking in my stomach and chasing every diet I could find. I was writing body-positive articles and chastising celebrity endorsements of diet products.

In short, I was leading a double life. I’m here to come clean.

RELATED: How The Idea Of Body Positivity Is Actually Toxic To Women

It’s not as though I haven’t tried to be positive. I tried to fake it 'til I made it until I realized I was simply faking it. I’ve discussed my disordered eating and body dysmorphia at length with my therapist.

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I’m working toward real positivity. I may or may not achieve that goal, and that’s okay. Working with my therapist, I’ve learned about body neutrality.

Body neutrality works by separating the appearance and size of your body from your self-worth. Instead, it focuses on what your body can do for you.

For instance, I’ve got cellulite covering my thighs, but I instead concentrate on how strong my legs are and how I’m able to walk.

Body neutrality dismisses the concept of judging someone’s health by the state of their bodies. It rejects the notion that fat people are unhealthy and thin people are, when it can easily be vice versa. We simply don’t know someone’s health circumstances by glancing at them.

Body neutrality is all about not concentrating on how your body appears. You can love your body, but you don’t have to love it to support body neutrality.

This BS takes up so much space in our brains. Yes — I’m calling out the BS. I’ll start with mine. I hate how my brain calculates every calorie faster than I can calculate a sale at Target. It’s why I don’t like to look at nutrition labels.

Knowing my caloric intake is such a trigger for me. I immediately want to drink tons of water to flush out the imagined toxins I’ve taken in or go for a run. I could be using those brain cells to kick butt at work or remember cute puppies or something.

I’m a work in progress. By no means do I have this thing down yet. I’m working toward that middle-of-the-road neutrality.

Some days I think I’ll be feeling myself, thinking I’m cute. Other days, I want to put a potato sack on and hide from the internet.

However, I’m trying. And that’s the barest truth of it all.

RELATED: What It’s Like To Be A Fat Woman In The Era Of So-Called ‘Body Positivity’

Anna Laura Herndon is a writer, advocate, and creator of Rants of a Virgo, an essay site. She writes about love, relationships, LGBTQ+ issues, and current events.

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This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.