Is body neutrality more important than body positivity?
Amberly Wright, Print Lifestyle Editor, discusses her take on the body positivity vs body neutrality debate and shares her own experience with her body image.
Trigger Warning: Discussion of eating disorders
Body positivity is preached and publicised and is the aim of most of us on our self-love journey. However, eating disorders and body image issues are more common than ever, so it is important to recognise your body as more than an aesthetic or an object and to be appreciative of the biological work it does to keep us alive. The idea of body positivity is learning to accept flaws and express yourself by going against societal standards or embracing aspects of your body in a loving manner, especially if these are things you are used to feeling pessimistic about. But here lies the issue with the body positivity movement. By identifying your body as something causing insecurity, low self-worth, and something that society disapproves of, we begin to find more and more problems with ourselves, whether subconsciously or not.
It is important to recognise your body as more than an aesthetic or an object and to be appreciative of the biological work it does to keep us alive
I have tried to be both body-positive and body-neutral and have found that the latter works best for me. It is a vulnerable thing for me to speak about, but I feel as though this article is the right place to do so, as speaking out can allow others to feel less alone. As someone who suffered with eating and body struggles, I found that body neutrality has been a useful tool in my recovery journey. At the time I was struggling, my social media feeds were beginning to fill up with influencers opening up about their insecurities, with some posting photos showing them off to the world. Although we should all be free to post our body in whatever way we please, and I admire those who do, I found it difficult to relate to the body positivity movement; and at times, it caused me to feel worse about myself. I would see people post about why they love their imperfections, but this made me see myself as imperfect, and even made me realise I was subconsciously insecure about aspects of my body I had never really paid attention to. I started to be grateful for my body keeping me alive and I began to appreciate my body for keeping me healthy, even on my darkest days. I stopped viewing my body as something that should fit into a certain aesthetic or should be treated in a certain way, either negative or positive.
I started to be grateful for my body keeping me alive and I began to appreciate my body for keeping me healthy
Although my attitude to my body still fluctuates, and I have good and bad days, as we all do, I continue to be grateful for the home I’ve had for nineteen years and its ability to allow me to play hockey, study Psychology, and love those around me. I have found some of my attitudes cross over to body positivity too, such as relating aspects of my body to things in nature that I view as beautiful. I have seen many people relate scars and cellulite to the rings inside a tree trunk, or stars in the sky, and it’s helped me to research into different body types and how the societal standards we have today are very different, and these expectations change over decades. I know that my body is more than an aesthetic, and instead is a home to many emotions and everything that makes me who I am.