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The Difference Between Body Positivity and Body Neutrality

Two woman stand together doing yoga

The body positivity movement encourages people to love and celebrate their bodies, no matter the size, shape, skin tone, physical abilities, or gender. This movement has been around for decades, but modern-day body positivity is largely a response to diet culture, a system of myths that falsely equates thinness to health. Diet culture has also been around for some time now, but in the age of social media, diet culture content has become almost impossible to avoid.

In contrast, the body neutrality movement is the idea that we can appreciate and accept our bodies, without having to love them unconditionally. This movement is more focused on what our bodies can do, and not how they look.

For some people, loving the way their bodies look feels like an unrealistic expectation. Being body-positive can be very hard no matter what you look like. We live in a society that has arbitrary standards of beauty, thin privilege, pretty privilege, etc., so it might not feel authentic for some people to say they love their bodies. And this isn’t their fault, but the fault of the pervasive system of oppression that is diet culture. 

This is where body neutrality comes in. It takes the focus away from the appearance, and more to the function. Less, “I love what my body looks like,” and more “I love what my body allows me to do.” It’s a great practice to remind us that our value is not determined by our appearance.

Deciding which works for you

Everyone is different and so while body positivity might make one person feel good, body neutrality might feel better for others. 

There’s no right or wrong way to work through body image struggles, and it might take some time or trial and error to find what feels good for you. If you often feel better after writing a list of affirmations, body positivity could benefit you. If doing this feels like you are suppressing too many feelings, body neutrality could be a better option. 

But remember, there is no either/or here, you can both incorporate body-positive and body-neutral talk into your life. 


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