Body Neutrality: What Is This Trend?

Accepting your physical appearance without forcing yourself to love it is the goal of body neutrality. This trend balances body positivity and negativity.
Body Neutrality: What Is This Trend?

Last update: 23 September, 2022

Body neutrality opens the door to visualization and approval of the physical body in its full reality without seeking for perfectionism. It’s a practice that calls for social inclusion and highlights real beauty.

This movement promotes the neutral treatment of the body without stigmatizing, praising, or punishing it. It proposes to love oneself above all things and to heal the relationship with yourself, a relationship that can affect your perception of your body.

It’s not about always feeling good in relation to your physique, but about eliminating the pressure that surrounds our bodies and that triggers consequences for both our physical and mental health. Find out what else the trend entails in this article.

What is body neutrality all about?

Body neutrality refers to a trend that accepts real bodies rather than ideal ones. The essence of this trend is to assume an image as it is, without the obligation to love it completely.

It doesn’t go hand in hand with body positivity, as it this belief system actually finds it toxic to force oneself to love one’s body. On the contrary, it’s a non-judgmental appreciation of the body that allows us to love or dislike our physical appearance from time to time. The key goal is to get rid of anxiety and expectations about our appearance.

The Office on Women’s Health emphasizes that body image is what you think and feel about your body or your physical appearance. If your body image is positive, there’s a greater proclivity for good mental health. On the contrary, negative body images have harmful effects such as depression, eating disorders, and physical and mental health problems.

In fact, a publication from the University of Monterrey notes that negative feelings about the body are triggered by exposure to the physical ideals promoted by society. The purpose of body neutrality is to put an end to these damaging paradigms.

Body neutrality
Body neutrality isn’t about forcing you to love your body as it is, but is instead about inviting us to normalize the characteristics that we don’t always like or that may not be traditionally considered beautiful. 

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Mantras advocated by body neutrality

Body neutrality is based on self-love. The practice suggests not addressing the body in negative ways, a common practice that’s also known as body shaming. It’s also a trend that works to ward off feelings of failure and frustration that come from not liking the way you look.

At the heart of body neutrality are various mantras or affirmations:

  • “I’m more than my appearance.”
  • “My value doesn’t depend on my appearance.”
  • “My appearance naturally transforms throughout my life.”
  • “I’m worthy of love and acceptance for reasons beyond my body.”
  • “My appearance is just one facet that complements who I am.”
  • “I can be happy in many ways that don’t involve the way my body looks.”
  • “Sometimes I feel more attractive and sometimes less. And that’s just okay.”

It’s completely normal that there are days when you can observe your body complexes more closely. However, those encounters are part of reality, and by leaning on self-love, you balance the negative thoughts in favor of self-esteem.

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Are body neutrality and body-positivity the same thing?

Both movements are against harmful beauty standards, favor body diversity, and aim to liberate us from the stereotype exposure driven mostly by social media. However, there are marked differences between the trends.

Body Image magazine points out that body positivity challenges the unrealistic standards of beauty in the media by promoting and accepting different body sizes and appearances.

The detail is that the trend focuses on always accepting virtues and flaws above all else. In contrast, the concept of body neutrality, instead of forcing you to love your appearance, is simply about making peace with your body, according to an article in The Guardian.

It’s important for the person to be clear that their physique should never influence their feelings and that they should strive to accept their body as it is without desiring to change it.

These two forms of inclusion both approach focus on different perspectives of tolerance towards the bodyl.

What happens when you don’t accept your body image?

Disapproving of your appearance can unleash a lot of frustration because you constantly feel the pressure to meet the expectations of others. When it comes to mental health, body neutrality assumes that it’s okay to live with body imperfections and that life is not about filling in the blanks.

Image-conscious people are likely to suffer from emotional disturbances. In fact, research developed by Psychology Writings points out that low self-esteem, high anxiety levels, depression, and body dissatisfaction are related to a preoccupation with weight and measurements.

Depression is another consequence that’s sometimes linked to body image. In fact, a chapter in the book Body Image and Depression highlights that people with depression often have low energy levels, experience discomfort in social interaction, don’t want to feel their bodies, and persistently reflect on how they’re seen by others.

To end this common and harmful self-devaluation, thousands of followers have begun to promote body neutrality.

a woman upset about her body
Not accepting our body image can lead to states of depression and anxiety.

When to ask for professional help

If you don’t identify with any of the currents that promote body acceptance and, on the contrary, you have an unpleasant impression of your body, it’s important to ask for professional help.

There’s a mental illness called “body dysmorphic disorder,” described by the Mayo Clinic as the inability to stop thinking about one or more defects in appearance, even if they’re minor details that others don’t perceive. This condition can be treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy and, in some cases, medication.

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