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Let’s Talk About Body Positivity vs. Body Neutrality

Where do you stand on body positivity vs body neutrality? At first glance, the difference between these two things can seem obvious, but it didn’t really click for me until a year ago. But before we start talking about differences and how I feel or relate, we have to understand what they are. 

Body positivity is a movement that has skyrocketed on social media, pushing to break societal norms on what an “attractive” body looks like while empowering people to embrace how they look and love themselves while doing it. Public figures like Lizzo, Demi Lovato, and Sienna Mae Gomez helped pave the way for people to accept their own body shape and to be proud of it. Tik Tok also has an impact on the body positivity movement; it gives “every day/normal” people the platform to show different body types and encourage people who look similar to them. However, the movement isn’t as inclusive as it claims to be. To me, it seems like the only women who are accepted in a body positive manner are a size 16 or smaller, already very pretty, white, or all of the above. 

That’s where body neutrality comes in. Body neutrality came with the body positivity movement; it teaches people to focus on the achievements and purpose of your body rather than “loving” it. It is a way to acknowledge that while you don’t think your body is “perfect,” you’re still respectful and kind to it. To me, it seems like a peaceful understanding and acceptance. I first learned about body neutrality when I was listening to a Pretty Big Deal podcast with Ashley Graham and Demi Lovato. The pair got onto the topic of body positivity and Demi said “It’s not so much on body positivity, but you need to focus on body acceptance. So now, when I look in the mirror and I start to have a negative thought, I don’t stop and say ‘no, you’re beautiful! You’re gorgeous, I love you, you’re perfect the way you are!’ because I don’t believe that. So, what I say to myself is ‘you’re healthy, and I accept you.’ You just express reality in accepting yourself rather than convince yourself of something you don’t believe.” 

 It seems so simple, but I swear it blew my mind when I heard Demi say it. I can’t sit here and lie to myself about enjoying how I look. I can’t tell people I’m confident or I love every imperfection on my body, but I can respect my body. Just accepting and acknowledging that this is how I look, and I don’t have to change anything to simply fit an idea of beauty. I think instead of pushing this idea that our bodies are perfect, we should focus on accepting our bodies for their imperfections and recognizing that our bodies are here to serve a purpose and to fuel us through life, not to look appealing to Instagram or that really cute person. I’m not going to lie, your physical appearance is the least interesting thing about you. You have so much more to offer than just how you look.

 I would love to see a future that teaches young women about accepting our bodies and appreciate the things it does for us. We don’t need to diet or constantly miss out on opportunities because we’re scared of our body looking a certain way. It isn’t something that will happen overnight; it is gradual and takes one thought at a time, but we can do it.

Caitlin is a sophomore at the University of Tampa. She is from a small town in rural Michigan and moved to Tampa to experience the city life. Currently, Caitlin is studying clinical psychology with a long term goal of assessing and treating personality disorders. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys all things animals, Netflix, playing Animal Crossing and taking naps.
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