Body neutrality: An alternate to self love?

A little while back, I came across a new concept: body neutrality. As a massive advocate for the self love movement, I was instantly intrigued. What is this new idea and should it be the next big thing?

Let's investigate.

Firstly, what is body neutrality?

In a nutshell, body neutrality is the act of simply accepting your body as it is. If you imagine a scale from body hate to body love, body neutrality would be right in the middle.

So, basically, instead of focusing on trying to LOVE your body, the idea is that you are just finding a way to be okay with it - a nice neutral ground.


But, what's the real difference between body hate, body love, and body neutrality?

To make it super clear, let's have a look at some different scenarios from each of the three perspectives...


BODY HATE

"I hate my freckles"


"I need to lose weight, I am so fat"



"I am so unfit and lazy"


BODY NEUTRAL

"My freckles are a part of me and that's fine" 

"I am overweight and as long as I'm not unhealthy then that's okay"

"My fitness isn't where I want it to be right now"


BODY LOVE

"I love my freckles"


"I love my curves and am beautiful in my own way"

"My body is stronger, fitter and healthier than I think. I am not afraid of hard work"


Looking at it like this, it feels like the trick to being body neutral is to remove the emotion from how we see our body. Instead of being overly positive or negative, it's about looking at the facts just as they are.

So, is body neutrality better than body love?

Despite the body neutrality movement beginning to take off, there's a couple of reasons I feel like it isn't the big solution to body hate....


1. Body neutrality requires a whole mindset change.

Firstly, it's important to remember that the thing that makes body neutrality different to both body hate and body love is that it removes all emotion - it is just about the facts. But, in a world where we've all been conditioned to attach so much emotion and meaning to the way we look, is neutrality even a realistic goal?

2. Body neutrality may not inspire a high level of self care.

Secondly, I wonder whether body neutrality will have a positive impact on self care the same way true body love does.

It's a reality of life that we need to look after our mental and physical health. This means eating well (mostly), moving our bodies, and taking time for self care.

The more effort we put into looking after ourselves, then (in general) the healthier and happier we are.

For example, let's think of it like a car...

If we HATE our car, then chances are we aren't going to look after it. We probably won't clean it or get it serviced. We will likely treat it so badly that it ends up breaking down way earlier than it should.

If we are NEUTRAL about our car, then we'll probably do the minimum needed to look after it. We'll probably get it serviced, but we won't go above and beyond to look after it - because we don't have any emotion attached to it. Whether it is running at its prime or not doesn't really matter.

But, if we LOVE our car, then we'll pull out all the stops to make sure it is running as well as possible, we will likely look after it constantly, and ensure it's always safe. We will look after it so well that it's shining 24/7 and running at 100%.

Which car do you think would last the longest and run the best? 

Obviously the car that we love.

So, the same theory should apply for our body too, right?

Do what works for you


Unfortunately, for many, the body love movement has become a little toxic because it can make us feel uncomfortable admitting we're having a bad day or negative thought. This has come about because we are bombarded with highlight reels on Instagram that make it out like the only way to have body love is to never have a negative thought about ourselves.

But, this is not what true body love actually is at all. 

True body love isn't a place that is constantly filled with happiness and rainbows. It's a place where you have to learn accept the parts of you that aren't perfect and choose to embrace them with an open heart. It's not about getting rid of faults but instead choosing to see them in a different light.

But, if that doesn't work for you and you feel the pressure of the body love movement on your shoulders, then maybe body neutrality is worth giving a go.

At the end of the day, if you're working on moving away from a place of body hate, then it doesn't really matter how you do it or what your end goal is - you're heading in the right direction. 


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