Why Body Neutrality Matters

Body neutrality focuses on what your body does instead of its appearance

Is there such a thing as the perfect body type? The obvious answer would be “of course not”, because in 2021, we have adapted this ideology that promotes body positivity and self-love for all shapes and sizes. No matter a person's width, height, or weight, it's those physical aspects that make people human. However, this is definitely not the case for most females who feel dissatisfied with their body. Arguably, for a female teenager, body image is a major insecurity. With the influence of social media, as well as quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic affecting one’s physical activity, those insecurities have only intensified. Studies have shown that from the ages of thirteen to seventeen, approximately 78 percent of females are dissatisfied with their bodies. Some of the factors that contribute to such insecurities include girls' appearances towards their peers, family, and social media influence. 

Society has consistently portrayed an image of the “perfect body type” emphasizing what females should look like, which people consider to be the “norm.” However, as the world evolved so has this concept, thus giving birth to the Body Positivity Movement, and yet this movement is not as positive as it may seem. What is the true meaning of body positivity? Does it mean that no matter a person's size he or she or they should embrace every inch of their body? Is it the unattainable dream to love your body even though you may be lying to yourself? When someone looks in the mirror, they see their reflection staring back with either a look of hatred or pride. 

I remember how I would constantly compare my body to those of my peers. I would look around and all I would see are skinny girls in tank tops while I was in a hoodie thinking to myself there must be something wrong with me. I was constantly wondering to myself what I would look like in a tank top and knew that I would look nothing like those skinny girls. Would people judge me in their heads and label me as someone “fat?” What if that label would become permanent in their minds? So many questions and it seemed that my only solution was to diet and avoid eating until I could confidently wear those tank tops that I so highly admired. As time went on, I became thinner but it never seemed like it was enough. Yet at the same time, I constantly wondered why I would care about what people thought about me. Am I truly doing this for myself or is this for others? I wanted to love myself like the Body Positivity movement claims we should but it seemed to be an impossible goal. There would always be a part of yourself that you dislike. I came to the realization that body positivity was not the answer to my insecurities because that would mean that everyone is perfect no matter what. However, that is not true because no one is perfect in this world, including myself. And so the world evolved once more and created “body neutrality, the idea that you can exist in your body without harboring feelings, whether positive or negative” said Stephanie King, MA, a therapist at Philadelphia’s Therapy for Women Center. 

Body neutrality focuses on what your body does instead of its appearance. Instead of focusing on what your body should or already looks like, people can go back to the core of what a body is. A body allows a person to run to school, travel around the world, jump off an airplane, swim in the ocean, or to simply hug someone: the possibilities are endless! Since when have we forgotten that the true purpose of why we have a body and instead using it to define who we are. The world has started to label us based on our bodies and the first thing we do when we look at someone is automatically judge them, whether it be intentionally or not. Instead, body neutrality gives a person the chance to see their bodies as a part of them instead of a whole. A body is simply a vehicle that gets you from one place to the other and when treated correctly that vehicle would be healthier and faster. The unrealistic goal to love your body is unattainable for most people, including myself. With body neutrality, it's okay because your emotions are in between the love and hate that you have for your body: you're simply neutral.

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