Probably everyone has moments in their life when they look in the mirror and are not satisfied with what they see – their reflection.
A judgmental voice rings in your head, and comparisons with the exquisite, worked-out physiques of athletes or online influencers appear before your eyes. The body neutrality movement is another trend, after body positive, that seeks to combat harsh judgments of one’s appearance. What does it consist of?
Body neutrality is an approach to silence the voices in your head that negatively judge and criticize your appearance: hair, skin, eyes, teeth, cheeks, ears or waist.
By following body neutrality, you have to tell yourself that you simply look the way you look, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s just the way it is. This can be compared to the popular statement in English “it is what it is”.
Practicing this approach allows you to take a break from constantly judging your body, whether it is valid or not. This releases positive energy and supports self-acceptance. By accumulating such resources, it becomes easier to simply accept yourself or take a step toward change in the future.
Body positive refers to a positive assessment of the state of one’s body regardless of how it presents itself. This is a big difference from neutrality, which can be likened to not making a judgment, going to normal over how one looks.
Body positive, on the other hand, does not allow for such thinking. According to this approach, your body is already perfect. You don’t have to do anything with it to accept it. An example of this kind of thinking is putting a mirror in front of you, looking into it and saying the words “I like how I look now. I don’t feel the need to change anything.”
There is no shortage of supporters of either idea. However, there is no denying that the body positive approach carries certain dangers, related to the lack of desire to change.
Judging other people without thinking of helping them, or applying such an approach to oneself is certainly not good. However, you can’t look at the world through rose-colored glasses and not pay attention to negative changes in the body, which translate into both physical and mental health. Without this, living comfortably with oneself is not possible.
Therefore, when comparing body neutrality and positivity, one can conclude that the former is the better option. It includes acceptance of the body, but at the same time does not close the way to improvement through unconditional acquiescence to one’s appearance. Morbid obesity should be treated precisely as a disease, and not an issue that can be closed within the framework of self-acceptance.
For this reason, both body positive and neutrality are approaches that are best practiced on parts of the body that cannot be changed in any way. We’re talking about things that are genetically conditioned: wide hips, disproportionate shoulders and arms in relation to the waist, ear size and deviation, nose size and shape, chin profile or eye color.
In such a situation, it’s worthwhile to work on a positive assessment of one’s body and try to see these features as charms rather than flaws. With this in mind, both body neutral and positive will do their job, improving your mood and silencing the evaluative inner voices.
main photo: unsplash.com/Billie