Scrolling through social media and seeing how perfect everyone else look can make us seriously doubt ourselves. Rationally, we know these platforms only show the good moments. Still, it’s only human to end up making comparisons. One of its most harmful effects is the way we perceive our bodies. Unrealistic beauty standards damage our self-esteem and distort the way we perceive ourselves. We’ve all had our fair share of “well-meaning” family members commenting on how, when, and what we should eat. There’s pressure to be thin in some cultures while others view curvy bodies as desirable, and the list of “ideal” beauty standards is endless, confusing, and contradictory. Sometimes it feels like there’s just no way to win.
Enter the Body Positivity movement. It’s a social movement that challenges toxic beauty standards set by popular culture. Regardless of race, gender, or appearance, the body positivity movement hopes to empower everyone to love their bodies. “All Bodies Are Beautiful” is the core principle of the movement, which sounds great, but when you go deeper, the statement is still problematic. Why must our bodies be beautiful? Why can’t they just be?
The Body Neutrality movement grew out of the need to combat toxic body positivity. The thought behind it is that we don’t have to constantly think about our bodies, and we don’t have to love them all the time. We can try and focus on what our body does for us instead of what it looks like. We are all worthy of love and respect even if our bodies are not beautiful!
The movement offers space to contemplate, acknowledge, and accept our bodies without forced positivity. Sweeping statements like “I love my body,” don’t help in the long run. You can’t expect someone to love their body instantly when all they’ve known is a tortured relationship with it.
This mindset can be hard to practice as it is difficult to break free from notions that our happiness or self-worth revolves around physical beauty. But, as with anything, consistency and awareness can help us break free from the mold and eventually develop a neutral mindset.