It is common to post pictures on social media with #bodypostivity, #body accepance# body neutrality# self-love. While some people use these hashtags intentionally majority are just following the trend. The conversation around these hashtags is beyond mere picture posting. Everyone must understand these concepts and decide what works and what doesn't. Body positivity, Body acceptance, and body neutrality are concepts that revolve around body image, self-worth, and mental health.
Body positivity preaches loving your body for what it is without room for negativity. Body acceptance preaches acknowledging your body insecurity and finding a reason to love your body because you can't change it.Body neutrality shifts focus from the body entirely. It emphasizes your whole being not just your body. It's all about loving and appreciating yourself, your abilities, and your privileges.
Whether you are familiar with these concepts but you aren't sure of the difference or you know nothing about them beyond being popular hashtags, this article will enlighten you. This article will explore the meaning of body positivity, body acceptance, and body neutrality. It would stop there, it will carefully lay bare their differences.
What is body positivity?
Body positivity is all about positive body image. It is about accepting your body as it is. Body positivity is an age-long movement against all forms of discrimination against the human body. The campaign started in the 1960s with the fat acceptance movement. The fat acceptance movement sought equal treatment of all bodies regardless of size and weight. It also empowered fat people to love and appreciate themselves.
Body positivity is now a worldwide movement that preaches self-love regardless of relative body imperfections. This movement seeks equal treatment and respect for all body types. The goal of this movement is to shatter all body and beauty standards. It preaches self-love as opposed to body.
Although the movement started as solidarity and empowerment for fat people, its message has been extended to encompass all forms of female body imperfections such as stretch marks, acne, bikini area rashes, hyperpigmentation, big tummy pregnancy fat as several other perceived imperfections.
Body positivity is premised upon the promotion of positive body image. It seeks to prevent people from hurting themselves in the process of seeking a perfect body. It discourages harmful weight loss exercises, undereating which may lead to eating disorders and dangerous plastic surgeries just to look the part.
As human beings, some natural changes are bound to occur in our bodies due to several factors such as aging, pregnancy, natural disasters, and lifestyle choices. Being positive about these changes instead of criticizing ourselves and others means we have a positive body image, we are positive about our body.
Body positivity is about loving your body as it is and not what it used to be and what it should be. It's natural for the body to change over time. Those stretch marks, pregnancy body changes, fat, acne, keloid are normal. You do not have to conform to any beauty standard. Accept your body for what it is. Prioritize your health over appearance. You don't have to go through a rigorous weight loss exercise, undereating, or plastic surgery to alter your appearance.
Take care of your body the natural way and do not overdo it. Don't hurt yourself in the process of wanting to alter natural body changes.
What is body acceptance?
Body acceptance was birthed from the criticism of the body positivity movement. One of the criticisms about body positivity is the fact that it doesn't give room for human moments, it forces us to love our body always. As human beings, we are bound to be dissatisfied with one thing or the other about our body sometimes. Body insecurity and frustrations are also normal.
It can only become abnormal when you dwell on it for too long and allow it to drive your self-worth and lifestyle. You shouldn't feel worse because you acknowledge your body insecurity. Body acceptance is all about facing your reality, having deep thoughts about all your body imperfections, and in the end, accepting the fact that there is nothing you can do to change it.
Even though you feel bad about your body, it's okay. You just have to accept the fact that this body is natural, it's not your fault, and accept it the way it is.
While body positivity focuses on feeling good and positive about your body always. Body acceptance acknowledges the fact that it's not possible to feel good about your imperfections and insecurities always. However, despite your insecurities, body acceptance gives room for reflection upon what you do not like about your body and figuring out how you can embrace it. How you can feel good about it without changing it.
What is body neutrality?
Despite the viral campaign of body positivity and body acceptance, there are several loopholes in these concepts. Asking people to accept and feel good about their bodies always is not realistic. As human beings, we are bound to feel negative about our appearance sometimes. You should not feel low because you feel bad about certain features in your body.
Why should everything always be about our appearance? Is our body all about physical features? Why can't we look beyond our appearance?
Body neutrality means taking a neutral stand about your body. You don't care about whether it's good or bad. Everything should not be black and white. You don't have to love or hate your body. You just have to acknowledge the fact that you have a body and there are several things your body can do.
Body neutrality preaches viewing our body beyond appearance. It's all about appreciating your body abilities instead of focusing on your physical feature. What can your body do for you? You should note what your body can do for you rather than what it looks like.
Body neutrality is self-appreciation and being grateful for every good thing in your life. You are not concerned about physical features and appearance, you are grateful for your existence, for your health, and things your body can do and not what it can't or what it is not.
What is the difference between body positivity, body acceptance, and body neutrality?
While body positivity and body acceptance focus on the body and physical appearance, body neutrality focus on the whole being not just the body. Body neutrality is about loving and accepting yourself not just your body.
Body positivity preaches loving your body for what it is always without giving room for any negative body image.
Body acceptance disagrees with the fact that you have to be positive about your body always. Body acceptance recognizes the fact that as a human, you are bound to feel bad about some of your body features sometimes. However, you should not dwell on it.
Think about those imperfections and finally find a way to make peace with your body regardless of the imperfections.
Body neutrality shifts the focus from the body. It disputes the fact that everything has to be black and white-it is either you love or hate your body.
No! Being body neutral means you do not have to love or hate your body. Shift your thinking away from what features your body possesses or does not possess. Instead appreciate your whole being not just your body.
Celebrate and be grateful for your existence and what your body can do. That is the path towards self-respect.
Proponents of body neutrality believe body positivity may be a huge step for people with a history of insecurities and trauma due to body shaming. They can't just wake up forget about their insecurities and start loving their body. Instead, why not shift focus from loving or hating your body. You don't have to love or accept it. Just embrace your person.
Love yourself beyond your body. Reflect on several good things about you and appreciate it. Don't weigh your self-worth based on your physical features. Rather sum up your whole being, appreciate and be proud of you.
It's more of a healing process from the history of body shaming, trauma, and marginalization.
This is because it is not writing off the experiences. Rather it's genuine. It gradually shifts focus from the physical body but towards loving yourself, your whole being. Even if you can change how you look, you can still be proud of yourself.
Another challenge to body positivity is the fact that it can be fake at times. One moment you posted your skin tags with hashtag body positivity, some hours later you are sitting before the mirror examining your face and wishing your skin could be spotless. That same wish may make you feel like a fraud. You feel you are betraying the body positivity creed.
The truth is, it is normal to feel bad about your body sometimes. Suppressing those feelings with forced positive body image is not the solution. Instead, acknowledge your feelings. Learn how to love and appreciate yourself. See your body as a mere vessel, you much more than physical features.
You've got your brain
You've got talents
You've got a sense of humor
You have emotional intelligence.
Especially you are breathing! You are a living being worthy of respect.
Body neutrality is different from body positivity and body acceptance in the sense that, it acknowledges the fact that there may be things you don't like about your body, but you are not dwelling on that. You are appreciating the fact that despite your physical appearance, you are still existing, you have your distinct abilities. Your body can do a lot of things worth appreciating beyond your appearance.
None of these terms overrules another. It's all about what works for you. If you do not have a problem with feeling positive about your body always, embrace and accept your body for what it is. However, body neutrality shouldn't be left out. It is all-encompassing. Love your body and your whole being. Accept your body imperfections and appreciate yourself as a whole.