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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

A few weeks ago, I was in a lecture for my Dance, Identity, and Cultural Expression class (UT Austin students – I highly recommend taking this class for your VAPA requirement!). Anyways, in that lecture, we discussed burlesque dance, and one of the TAs with a dance background led the discussion. Obviously, burlesque and dance forms in general place lots of pressure on what the performer looks like, so physical appearance was part of our discussion. In class, my TA brought up a term I had never heard of before, called “body neutrality”. She described how it’s a way of accepting and respecting our bodies in their current state.

Since that lecture, this concept has really stuck with me. Growing up, I’d only been exposed to the concept of body positivity, something that I’m sure many of us are familiar with. Body positivity embraces the idea that we are beautiful no matter what we look like and while that may sound good on paper, it can be quite difficult to practice. In recent years, body positivity has been criticized for being toxic, in the sense that it can pressure people to always feel good about their physical appearance.

While I try my best to have a positive mindset about body image, I’ve learned that my relationship with my body can fluctuate on a daily basis. If you struggle with this too, you’re actually in the majority as almost 97% of women experience negative thoughts about their appearance each day. For young women especially, social media and mixed signals about body image don’t help either. Trends about the ideal female body come and go, causing many women to feel like they need to change their appearance in order to be accepted or thought of as attractive.

In today’s world, I think that body neutrality can be a helpful way of viewing body image. Instead of the idea that we must always love ourselves, we can find comfort and appreciation in the idea that our bodies can do amazing things. Self-worth is not dependent on appearance and when we spend so much time fixating on it, we fail to see our unique talents, skills, and character.

For me, I think there’s value in both body positivity and body neutrality. It’s great to love yourself and feel confident about your body. Some days, I definitely relate to this and feel happy about the way that I look. However, some days I don’t feel so positive about my appearance. I approach those days with body neutrality by reminding myself that my body allows me to walk places and hug the people that I love. While I may not always feel satisfied with the way I look, I’m more than just my body or a number on a scale.

Sarah is a second-year journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin and serves as a Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Texas. She loves fashion, beauty, and music and enjoys sharing these interests in her writing.