If you've spent any time on social media, you've probably heard the terms “body positivity” and “body neutrality” before. Increasingly over the past decade, the world finally woke up and realized that maybe, just maybe, we should stop beating ourselves up about our bodies. Novel concept, right?

But here's the thing: with all this chatter, you might be wondering, "What's the difference between body positivity and body neutrality? And which one is right for me?" Well, you and only you can make that determination. However, we’re here to add our perspective on the topic, and hopefully, it may help you gain clarity so that you can figure out which path feels most like home for you.

Photo by Starast

Body Positivity: Love Yourself, Fiercely and Unapologetically

Let's start with body positivity. Think of it as the extrovert of the body acceptance world – it's loud, proud, and wants everyone to join the party.

What's it all about? Body positivity is like throwing a non-stop celebration for your body. It's about:

  • Loving every inch of yourself, from your head to your toes
  • Challenging those annoying beauty standards that make us feel like we should all fit a perfect mold
  • Embracing diversity in all its glorious forms
  • Shouting from the rooftops that all bodies are beautiful, simply because the human body is beautiful – some may even say it’s a work of art

The good stuff:

  • It can be a real confidence booster
  • You might find yourself strutting down the street like it's your personal runway
  • It creates a sense of community and empowerment

The not-so-great stuff:

  • Sometimes, loving your body 24/7 can feel like a full-time job
  • It might not feel authentic if you're having an "I just want to hide under the covers" kind of day

Photo by Starast

Body Neutrality: Your Body Is Not Your Whole Story

Now, let's chat about body neutrality. If body positivity is the life of the party, body neutrality is that chill friend who's content to hang out on the outskirts of the party in deep thought and conversation.

What's the deal? Body neutrality is about accepting your body for what it is, without the pressure to love every bit of it. It's like:

  • Saying, "Hey body, you're alright. Thanks for keeping me alive and well."
  • Focusing on what your body can do, and how capable it is, rather than how it looks
  • Giving yourself permission to not have strong feelings about your body one way or the other

The awesome parts:

  • It takes the pressure off having to feel positive all the time
  • It can be a more realistic approach for many people
  • It provides room to not focus on other aspects of your life beyond your appearance

The potential downsides:

  • Some people might find it less motivating or empowering than body positivity
  • It might feel a bit too passive if you're used to a more active approach to self-love

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So, Which Team Are You On?

Now comes the million-dollar question: which approach is right for you? Here's the thing – there's no one-size-fits-all answer. It's all about what feels authentic and empowering for YOU. Let's do a little self-reflection, shall we?

Ask yourself:

  1. Do I thrive on positivity and affirmations, or do I prefer a more neutral and mindful approach?
  2. Does the idea of actively loving my body feel energizing or exhausting?
  3. Am I more motivated by celebrating my body or by accepting it as it is?
  4. Which approach aligns better with my personality and values?
  5. Do I fall somewhere in the middle, taking on either approach depending on my mood or the day of the week?

Remember, there's no right or wrong answer here. You're not picking a team for the rest of your life – you're exploring what feels good for you right now.

Photo by Starast

Putting It Into Practice: Your Body Acceptance Playbook

Whether you're leaning towards body positivity, body neutrality, or a mix of both, here are some practical tips to help you on your journey:

For the Body Positive Warrior:

  • Start your day with positive affirmations. Look in the mirror and say something nice about yourself (even if you don't believe it at first).
  • Follow body-positive accounts on social media. Surround yourself with diverse representations of beauty.
  • Challenge negative self-talk. When you catch yourself being critical, flip the script and say something kind instead.

For the Body Neutral Ninja:

  • Practice gratitude for what your body can do. Thank your legs for carrying you through your day, your arms for hugging your loved ones, etc.
  • Focus on how you feel rather than how you look. Are you comfortable? Energized? Strong?
  • Engage in activities you enjoy, regardless of how you look doing them. Dance like nobody's watching, because hey, they probably aren't anyway!

For Everyone:

  • Take time to explore what makes you, you; and find your voice so that you can advocate for yourself and feel authentic to yourself.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people who appreciate you for who you are, not what you look like.
  • Give yourself permission to grow and evolve. Over time, it’s okay to change perspective or incorporate new ideas. What felt good to you at 25, might be different at 35, and completely foreign at 45. 

Photo by Starast

Do You, Boo

As we wrap up our chat on body neutrality vs. body positivity, here's what I want you to remember: both approaches are valid paths to a fuller relationship with your body. The most important thing is to find what feels authentic and empowering for you.

Maybe you'll be waving the body positivity flag high and proud. Or perhaps you'll be chilling in the body neutrality zone. You might even find yourself switching between the two depending on the day – and that's perfectly okay!

Your journey to body acceptance is just that – yours. It's not about fitting into a particular mold or following a specific set of rules. It's about finding peace with your body and treating it with kindness and respect.

So, what resonates with you? Are you Team Body Positivity, Team Body Neutrality, or somewhere in between? 

And hey, if you're looking for more resources on this topic, check out books like "The Body Is Not an Apology" by Sonya Renee Taylor for a deep dive into body positivity, or "More Than a Body" by Lexie and Lindsay Kite for a nuanced look at body image resilience.

Remember, you're on this journey with millions of other amazing humans. We're all figuring it out together, one day at a time. So be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself, and rock on with your awesome self!

Photo by Starast

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