It seems like every time I scroll through my Instagram feed or browse the web, I inevitably come across something about body positivity. These posts generally encourage everyone to love their body. The body positivity movement is definitely a good thing, as women have been pressured to conform to beauty standards for pretty much forever. Loving the skin you’re in and not spending time agonising over your calorie intake sure beats being miserable about the way you look, but:
There’s a problem with positivity
Being positive is universally accepted as being a good thing. People are always trying to banish anything resembling negativity from their lives – it freaks them out. Hence the irritating phrase ‘Good Vibes Only’, found on countless generic decor items. Body positivity is the same in that it encourages everyone, sometimes using what feels like force, to only feel positive things about their bodies and those of everyone around them.
The problem with this is simply that most people aren’t happy and positive ALL the time. We just aren’t wired that way. When I am feeling sullen and defiant, which is fairly often, the last thing I want is to feel as though I am being told that I HAVE to love my body. What if I don’t WANT to?
A different take: the body neutrality movement
Body neutrality preaches something a lot more realistic and attainable. Body positivity says we should love and embrace our looks with no exceptions; body neutrality refreshingly suggests that we are allowed to not love our bodies. They suggest we work on acceptance instead. WAY more doable! I can appreciate all my body does for me – it houses my inner being after all – but I am allowed to find some parts less attractive than others. In this case, the opposite of love doesn’t mean hate. We are allowed to notice our flaws and accept them, even if we don’t like them. And, if we choose to, we can do something about changing them. I can even use this dislike of certain bits to motivate me to make lifestyle changes that could improve my general wellbeing. This doesn’t mean that anyone should be shaming anyone else, but the concept of body neutrality certainly takes some pressure off when you just don’t love what you see in the mirror one hundred percent of the time.
Body neutrality is, to quote the famous adage, about accepting that which we cannot change. Or can change – it might just make take a while and a lot of self-discipline to get there. It doesn’t mean that we have to be satisfied or even love every part of ourselves all the time. Unless, of course, that’s how we genuinely feel. No pressure, though.