Tea Time: What’s The Difference Between Body Positivity And Body Neutrality?

First things first, let’s just say that if you identify with one of these movements, or neither of them, that’s fine. The important thing here is that you appreciate the body you have, because without it, you wouldn’t be alive, none of us would. 

Now, body positivity is not the opposite of body neutrality or vice-versa, they are simply two movements that want to reach the same end goal, but chose to pave their way differently. 

Image Source: Pinterest

Body Positivity is a movement that has been brought to the surface more recently through the voices that speak about feminism. But an organization called The Body Positive was created in 1996, with the ultimate goal of ending “the harmful consequences of negative body image on people’s mental health.” Body positives basically say that you should love, accept and be proud of the body you have. As the name of the movement says, you should have a positive view of your body, despite the way society looks at or thinks about it. 

Image Source: Pinterest

This train of thought, however, can be a bit challenging to many people, because when it becomes something extreme, it can make someone feel guilty when they don’t feel body positive. We don’t always feel good about ourselves and that’s okay! Constantly making these positive affirmations when we don’t always believe in them can be harming to our mental health. Dr. Joanne Wood published a study in the Journal of Psychological Science and came to the conclusion that “repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, but backfire for the very people who need them the most."

At some point it was decided that a certain body type was the ideal, but this “ideal” changes all the time, and what is shown in the media regarding this movement, in most cases, are perfectly proportioned curves on a body. It’s surreal how much society is able to restrain our minds, even when following a movement called Body Positive, we still have the ability - or opportunity - to think that perhaps our bodies don’t have the right amount of curves, or our bodies are not that different from the “normal” standard decided by society. 


Image Source: Rachele Cateyes (via Pinterest)

And let’s not forget, so many brands have started to use this movement as a way to sell their products, and although that can sometimes be a good thing, most times, it’s only a way to get money. Unfortunately, that’s something that happens quite a lot with empowerment movements, such as Me Too and Black Lives Matter.

Feeling that the body positivity movement was no longer enough, Body Neutrality came to fill in the gaps that the previous movement was no longer covering. According to Huffpost, the term started being used in 2015 and since then has been gaining popularity on the internet. 

The basic principle is that it isn’t realistic to love ourselves and be positive about our bodies every single day. So, it’s okay to have a more neutral approach. The goal is to not see yourself in either a good or bad way, but to accept your body just the way it is. Appearance shouldn’t be a factor in how you feel about yourself, the movement rather focuses on what your body does, on what it’s capable of.

Image Source: Instagram (@beyondbeautifulbook)

Jameela Jamil, in an interview with Marie Claire, said that the body positivity movement became “a marketing slogan, and that's not what it was originally for,” it “turned into just a way for brands to have an excuse to talk about women's bodies some more.” Hence the creation of the Instagram account “I Weigh”, a life-positivity movement, as she describes it, that focuses on weighing yourself by aspects of your life that you are grateful for or proud of, instead of kilograms. 

Her initiative resembles body neutrality and she actually speaks a lot on acceptance of different bodies, detaching the discussion from appearance and being more inclusive to people of different races, sizes or with disabilities.

Image Source: Jameela Jamil on Twitter

Of course there’s nothing wrong with either approach about your body and your appearance, but we need to acknowledge that one attitude might not work for everyone. Maybe body neutrality is your thing, maybe it’s body positivity. Either way, we’re all on the right path.