If you are on any social media platform, you have probably seen people post about the Body Positivity Movement and the Body Neutrality Movement, but have you actually learned what they are really about? Neither have I, so I decided to look deeper into them and see what their real intentions are and which movement I should be supporting if I should be supporting either.
What is the body positivity movement?
The Body Positivity movement is centered around accepting all bodies, sizes, shapes, colors, etc. While watching some TikToks about body positivity, I have had some concerns about it: Is putting down those who are considered to have a skinnier or more "attractive body"? Is it ending the use of the term "skinny privilege"? Does it focus on the importance of being healthy? And is it promoting unhealthy lifestyles?
The main meaning of the movement is to challenge how society thinks of bodies and to break free from unrealistic body standards. The movement wants people to accept and love every part of their bodies and does not want people to feel that they have to change their bodies. I do agree that loving your body and not being pressured into change is good, but based on how I have seen the body positivity representation on social media (especially TikTok), it is searing away from the idea of being healthy.
DISCLAIMER: Being healthy does not mean you are skinny and being considered "bigger" does not mean you are unhealthy. What you eat does not completely determine what your body does or doesn't look like.
I think that supporting all bodies, shapes, sizes, etc. is amazing. However, I think there needs to be a line between being body positive and supporting being unhealthy. Weight is just a number, but your health is your life, and we shouldn't be pushing that unhealthy lifestyles are admirable. We should be pushing to love our bodies, but to also be healthy.
"13 million U.S. children live in food insecure households. Food insecurity is strongly correlated with the development of eating disorders. We address the root social conditions that cause eating disorders." (International Journal Of Eating Disorders)
That quote, that quote is what answered the questions that I had stuck in my mind. Although some influencers on social media will make unhealthy eating habits a "key staple in body positivity", that is not what the movement is about. The movement is about having a healthy relationship with your body and food, not about promoting being unhealthy. The movement is trying to save people from eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
FACT CHECK: EATING DISORDERS: IRREGULAR OR ABNORMAL EATING HABITS. BODY DYSMORPHIA: A MENTAL ILLNESS CHARACTERIZED BY OBSESSIVE FOCUS ON A PERCEIVED FLAW IN APPEARANCE.
What is the body neutrality movement?
"Body neutrality is, “Not supporting the hatred of our vessel (our physical structure) or the love and adoration of our vessel.”" (National Eating Disorder Association)
Body neutrality is exactly what it sounds like, it is being neutral about the feelings of your body. The movement is about getting people to realize that they don't have to love their bodies, but they don't have to hate it as well. In my opinion, the Body Neutrality Movement is much more realistic for women. While writing this, I am actually thinking about how beautiful it is to just accept something and not feel the need to love it and flaunt it or to hate it and hide it. It means just being.
So, which do I think we should be supporting more?
Although both seem to be great, I am going to say that if we had to pick one, it should be Body Neutrality. I think being neutral about your body will benefit women and help them more of their authentic selves without having to flaunt or hide anything.
My personal experience
If you have read some of my other articles, you will know that I sometimes like to talk about my article topic on a more personal level. I do this because, after reading articles about these topics in my free time, I realized that reading a lecture from someone who has not experienced what they are writing about does not help me believe what they are saying. I feel like they are just giving me the textbook answers to my problematic questions and not the real, emotional, truthful, answers. So I decided to write a little about why my article topics relate to me a little:
Many that know me personally know that I am not a small girl. I am 5'9" (at least) and 150 pounds. And I know that putting my weight out for the world to know is risky, but its part of this body neutrality and positivity thing. Anyway, many people have made it clear to me that I am not the thinnest and that I could "lose a few". Once, I even had a "friend" tell me that I should starve myself and when called out after saying that, she said, "I think that if you didn't eat all day before your soccer game you would be a better athlete because you would be so hungry and just want to get the game over with." Why would someone even say that to anyone? That was probably when I realized that I didn't love my body. And now I still don't, but I also don't hate it. I truly believe that being neutral about my body is what's best for me. Once I heard the term "mid-sized", or not being skinny or fat, I thought about how many teens can probably relate to that. I know I do. We are the ones who, on a BMI chart, are right between being underweight and overweight. We are in the middle. And that is completely healthy!
Another thing that really draws me to this topic is my relationship with food. Unfortunately, many people have accused me of overeating when, in actuality, I do the opposite. One day I was running behind in the morning and skipped breakfast. I was running behind for a few days after that and skipped breakfast again. Then I just got used to not eating breakfast. Actually, now when I eat breakfast I feel sick for the rest of the day. So I have gotten used to not eating breakfast and feel okay if I don't eat breakfast. I do believe that I have some stomach issues because whenever I eat I feel pretty sick to my stomach. I don't believe that I should be using that as part of my reason for not eating as much. But I have also noticed recently that I don't find myself actually getting hungry for a while. I usually don't realize that I need food until I start getting shaky and feel like I can't focus or function effectively. As an athlete, this is incredibly unhealthy because my body is not getting what it needs.
So, I am trying to get better at eating often and not waiting until I desperately need to eat. It is hard though. I am used to my routine of not eating a lot and then trying to fix it backtracking not eating for the day in just a few minutes. But I am trying and that is what counts.
A short note to my readers
I want you to remember that you are not alone. Someone understands what you are going through, and they too want to get better. I know that sometimes it feels like no one gets you, but I promise someone does. I do. So that is why I address such heavy topics because I relate to them and I want others to know they are not alone. If you ever need anyone to talk to, I am here. I even have my Instagram linked to my profile, so you can directly message me if you need to or even if you just need a reminder that you're not alone.
Forever and always here if you need me,
P.S. Thank you for reading my articles! It means a lot.