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Arts & Culture / Claire Blackmore

PP Opinion: Body-Positivity vs Body-Neutrality

How dull would it be if we all had the same feelings and thoughts on life’s hot topics? Here at Pink Parcel we truly embrace a difference of opinion – every point of view is valid after all.

Today, we’re hearing from two women about body confidence and what it means for them…

“Body-neutrality is my stance”

Writer, Sophie Wilson, believes having a neutral relationship with your body is the most balanced approach…

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“I’m pro body-neutrality because it presents an alternative to the scrutinisation of our bodies both in the media and in our own mirrors. Whilst body positivity is still something to strive for, body neutrality recognises that the way your body looks is not actually that important. The purpose of the body is to protect our organs and keep us alive. Your body is not a machine, nor is it a temple. It is a body.

“The body-positivity movement is filled with phrases like, “Love your curves”, but body-neutrality moves away from loving what your body looks like. Instead, it suggests that you should love what your body can do. Your body can keep you alive. It can run. It can feel. The basis of body-neutrality is that we should not care what it looks like.

“Body-neutrality is a liberating concept. It is a form of self-care. It helps you to recognise that there will be days when you don’t love your body, but instead of that sending you into a spiral of self-hate, it suggests you should acknowledge how you are feeling and just let it go. Young women are constantly objectified, but body neutrality acknowledges that you are so much more than your body.

“Whilst body-positivity may have come from a place of goodness, it puts a huge amount of pressure on us to love our bodies. At times, it can feel as though it is trying to guilt us for not loving our body 24/7. For people who suffer from body dysmorphia and the eating disorders that can accompany it, it is difficult to always love your body. Body-neutrality can be a stepping stone to body-positivity – and sometimes that neutrality itself is enough.”

“I’m pro body-positivity”

Body confidence coach, Michelle Elham, explains why she’ll always champion the body-positive mindset…

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“For me, body positivity means that all bodies are good bodies. Regardless whether you find someone else’s body attractive or not, it is still deserving of love and respect. You can be healthy at any size.

“I’ve had 15 surgeries in my life, so I have scars from those surgeries. As a teenager I also gained weight after my operations, around the time when all my friends were dieting. I remember getting really bored of the dieting conversation and listening to how everyone insulted their bodies. One day my friend saw herself in a window reflection and she said “oh, I’m so fat.” I’d never really noticed her body until she’d said that and I realised it actually draws more attention to the body when you talk about it negatively. From then on I made the decision not to vocalise my negative thoughts about my body.

“I went on to do a degree in Psychology and decided to get qualified as a life coach and work with teenage girls on body confidence issues. I’d been in hospital so many times and each time I came out I was just so grateful that my body worked. I didn’t want other girls to have to go through my health problems to be grateful for having a body. I want women to realise that their bodies are amazing and that’s what important, not what you look like. That’s the positive body message that I’m passionate about.

“There are lot of theories on body neutrality and I do believe that it’s a part of body-positivity; no one is able to love their body without going through that phase. Body-positivity gets spoken about by people who don’t really understand it, and maybe they have this warped idea that you can go from really hating your body to suddenly loving it. Before you can truly love yourself there is a middle part where you’re just a bit apathetic towards your body and you just accept it for how it is – that’s what I think a neutral approach is.

“When you hate your body so much and you think about trying to love it, it’s seems a very unrealistic expectation. When I stopped making negative comments about myself, for a good five years I didn’t love my body, but I didn’t hate it either. My biggest insecurities were around my scars, but I came to the conclusion I couldn’t so anything about them so I just had to accept them. It took many more years though before I really loved them. But I was in a place of neutrality for  while.

“Society teaches you that you have to hate your body in order to be motivated to love it, but that never works. Let’s take weight loss, it’s never permanent if you lose weight because you hate yourself so much in that moment. Even if you end up losing weight, you’ll still hate your former self. If you love your body you automatically want to do the best for it, whatever that that is for you. That’s why I believe being body positive is a more powerful, effective and nicer way to live.”

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