Wellness » Is Body Neutrality the New Body Positivity? How Acceptance Can Help You Love Your Body

Is Body Neutrality the New Body Positivity? How Acceptance Can Help You Love Your Body

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Body neutrality is a mindful ideology that embodies true self-love and acceptance. Practicing body neutrality involves appreciating what your body can do for you while focusing less on how it looks or what needs tweaking. We like to think of it as the healed version of body positivity that’s neither positive nor negative. This philosophy encourages ditching toxic dieting and obsessive exercise habits. Instead, it focuses on embracing physical capabilities regardless of flaws and imperfections. It’s ultimately a healthier, more realistic perspective shift towards body acceptance.

This article explains the body neutrality movement, including what it is, how it’s different from body positivity, and how to best incorporate it into your lifestyle, including insight from two nutritionists on the health benefits of body neutrality.

What’s body neutrality? 

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the philosophy known as body neutrality represents a confident yet authentic mindset toward body image. It’s arguably the most level-headed attitude regarding body consciousness, especially as it pertains to weight.

Body neutrality emphasizes contentment with your physical aptitude over appearance. It’s a neutral stance that’s neither optimistic nor pessimistic. In practice, body neutrality is a balancing act of accepting your body’s current abilities and ending the negative cycle of body hatred relating to your looks. The basis of this movement is rooted in gaining peace of mind with yourself and ignoring pressures to conform to unrealistic beauty standards.

The difference between body neutrality and body positivity 

Body neutrality and positivity are contrasting stances that both oppose traditional beauty standards.

Body positivity became a major buzzword back in 2012 and sparked a worldwide movement. It’s the ideology that all bodies are equally perfect and beautiful. In contrast, body neutrality challenges the harmful rhetoric of basing someone’s value on their looks or weight. It focuses more on appreciating healthy body function than your image, like being able to move around freely. 

Although body positivity stresses the importance of body acceptance, body neutrality doesn’t base acceptance on appearance. It acknowledges that you won’t always feel confident about your body. It represents a redefined meaning of acceptance with honest undertones.

Overall, body neutrality was founded on principles supporting wholesome body views. The movement solely reserves headspace for healthy, non-toxic attitudes regarding fitness and nutrition. It also eliminates the pressure of hiding behind toxic positivity to appear confident and high-esteemed — even if you don’t feel that way on the inside. 

How to put body neutrality into practice

A body neutrality mindset may be easier said than done, and this attitude takes time to adapt. You’ll want to take baby steps to start. Here’s how to do it.

Focus on what your body can do, not how it looks

A big part of self-acceptance is appreciating what you have rather than what you lack. That’s what body neutrality is all about. It doesn’t reduce your worth to your looks. Instead, it prioritizes valuing your body’s strengths and capabilities. Focusing on the latter prevents you from falling into the trap of comparison and body hatred. It still counts as body appreciation — just from a different angle.

Ditch diet culture and the “exercise as punishment” mentality 

Don’t feel pressured to emulate every dieting fad or viral workout trend you see on social media. This isn’t a representation of body neutrality. Glorifying weight loss can cause you to obsess over diet culture or view exercise as a punishment, which are unhealthy behaviors that could further fuel body image-related challenges. With body neutrality, what matters most is doing things that feel good for your body

We spoke with nutritionist Lisa Richards, who shared her feelings about diet culture. 

“Diet culture and the industry as a whole have played a direct and indirect role in disordered eating habits, weight issues, and anxiety around food in general,” she said. “Rather than beginning a new diet that requires non-sustainable means of weight loss, it’s best to find a balanced eating pattern that works for you. When the goal is health rather than a certain number on the scale, it’s easier and freer to meet the scale and non-scale victories.”

Use neutral body language… literally

Body neutrality requires a mindset shift, including changing the way you think about and discuss your body. First things first: Throw negative self-talk out of the window. Body shaming language counteracts the goal of neutrality. Rather than saying to yourself, “I feel fat” or “I need to lose weight,” exchange the verbiage for body-neutral phrases, such as “I fully accept my body in its current state.” 

We spoke with registered dietitian and nutritionist Taylor Arnold, who shared more tips on how to talk neutrally in terms of the body. “Normalize all bodies in conversation,” she told us. “Avoid moralizing language like ‘good’ or ‘bad’ when it comes to bodies and weight.” 

Body neutrality can be the beginning of a new relationship with your body

Entering and fully accepting the body neutrality movement can feel wildly different from what you’re used to. It’s often tough to navigate in the beginning, so prepare to give yourself grace. But after a while, you may notice a new form of body acceptance you didn’t have before.