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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

“Body positivity” is a phrase you’ve most likely heard hundreds of times over the past couple of years. It’s meant to signify confidence, an encouragement to love the body that you are in, no matter what it looks like. 

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “no one will love you until you learn to love yourself”? That’s because the main idea of body positivity is to put oneself nearly on a pedestal above the rest. Loving yourself has become the main priority, the main objective. Based on the body positivity movement, channeling your “inner warrior” or overlooking imperfections is as simple as changing your mindset.

While the sentiment is there, like many things when put into practice, the message of the body positivity movement has begun to teeter on the verge of toxicity. Simply loving oneself is a harrowing journey, one that some may never even take a step towards because of a number of different reasons, including mental illnesses like eating disorders, body dysmorphia or simply just low self-esteem, and that’s perfectly normal and okay. 

An example of the pressure of the body positivity movement was expressed in the show “Euphoria” and the character Kat, who comes to the realization that she doesn’t love her boyfriend because she is unable to love herself. It illustrates the pressure created by the body positivity movement to feel empowered.

Disclaimer: This video is from the TV show “Euphoria” which is rated TV-MA. 

Being unable to love your body doesn’t mean one is any less lovable, which I think is where the body positivity movement fails to acknowledge the struggles of individuals who cannot simply be positive about their body the way it is. 

There is an issue deriving from the innate human feeling of jealousy when it comes to our bodies. Our society has labeled specific body types as ideal, but many fail to recognize that different bodies are trends just as fast fashion is. If you think back to Renaissance paintings, the perfect body at the time was someone who was well-fed and had a larger figure, a stark contrast to the idealized body of the twenty-first century that focuses more on a slim, hourglass figure. 

In response to the body positivity movement, body neutrality was made as a midpoint between body positivity and negative body image. It focuses on accepting and respecting your body even if it is not exactly the way one wants it to be. Our bodies are important, they function to keep us alive every second of the day. Even if they aren’t perfect (and no one’s is), they serve a critical role in your own survival and well-being. 

There is beauty in respecting your body and not obsessing over it, much like the body positivity movement can eventually lead people to do. Body neutrality provides a sense of relaxation because it’s all about accepting what comes naturally and understanding that we often have no say in how our body changes or looks, especially as we get older. 

Courtney Te is a Graphic Design major and a Psychology minor at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is passionate about animals, writing and graphic design.