Body positivity is a growing movement; whereby, individuals are encouraged to love their bodies and celebrate themselves at any size or weight.
This is a wonderful aim, but what happens when love and positivity don’t quite work for you? There are many who advocate body neutrality instead as an answer.
In her post What Do You Do When “Loving Your Body” Is Hard?, Kelsey Miller writes,
I always knew body positivity wasn’t as simple as saying, “You should just love your body! Problem solved!” I knew from my own experience that one had to allow for insecurity, mixed emotions, and even outright negative feelings. Expecting to make the switch from self-loathing to total, unadulterated self-love was unreasonable — perfectionism in a different form.
Body neutrality is that middle ground. The place within, where, maybe we don’t adore our bodies, but we at least we no longer hate them either. For me, it’s that place where I can accept that my body is just that: a body – of flesh and bone, not a measure of self-worth– in which we (me and my body) can coexist. We can live within and around each other, peacefully; without throwing it ticker-tape parades, but without wanting to see it shrink or disappear either.
Miller also describes how the term “body positivity” usually brings to mind issues of size and weight, whereas the struggle to love or accept one’s body is also prevalent among individuals with disabilities, mental illness, and (I would add) chronic illness, as well as individuals who are non-binary (or genderqueer), or those who struggle with body dysmorphia. “Many in these groups spend their whole lives struggling toward a stable sense of neutrality,” she writes. Telling someone to be positive can be an insult to someone who cannot simply change their mental standpoint with the snap of the finger, it can be a struggle more difficult than many can comprehend, one that goes further than social media self esteem. Some people are able to reach that place of self-love quite easily, but for those of us who aren’t able to be gung-ho (whatever the reason), body-neutral feels like a much more attainable goal.
The term, body neutrality is still relatively new, but I think the concept has been prevalent in a lot of individuals for a while. While this sense of self may be inherent for some, self-taught for others, the newfound term could be that crucial life vest for someone trying to learn to be positive when they’re starting from too negative a place. Or some of us know that we will never have a supermodel body, so we can better accept our cellulite and stretch marks for just facts of life.
The first step is to try with all your might to stop comparing yourself to others, and to find the little beauties within everything and everyone. When we find one thing that we like, it is easier to ignore or accept the things we don’t like.
Comment below if you like, love, or just accept your body. Download the Hey! VINA app if you would like to meet other neutral vinas.
(Feature image via @emrata)