Article By Haylie Palichuk

Body positivity is a movement that invites individuals to love and accept their bodies, regardless of size, appearance, or ability. The movement focuses on resisting harmful beauty standards by celebrating body diversity. For some, body-positive strategies can be a powerful way to nurture unconditional self-acceptance and transform negative thoughts. Rather than believing societally imposed messages about body ideals, body positivity encourages self-love through affirmations such as “I am beautiful” or “I love my body just as it is.”

However, it is not always realistic to love our bodies all the time. Feelings of shame, failure, or self-blame may arise when one cannot maintain a positive view of their body. To avoid promoting toxic positivity, body neutrality offers an alternative approach to protecting against body dissatisfaction. While body positivity focuses on loving your body, body neutrality acknowledges that it is okay not to love your body. However, your body still deserves care and respect, even when loving it is difficult. Turning the focus away from appearance, body neutrality encourages cultivating gratitude for what your body does for you and your inner strengths that make you unique.

Some strategies to foster a realistic appreciation for your body include:

Showing Your Body Respect

Nourish your body with balanced, mindful eating. Move your body in ways that bring you joy and show your body care by engaging in your favourite self-care activities. Wear comfortable clothing that fits you and donate or sell items that do not. Listen to your body and honour it when it needs food or rest.

Challenging Body Talk

Resist talking about your own or others’ bodies in conversation by setting a boundary or changing the subject. Notice how you talk about your body and remind yourself that your body deserves kindness. Ask yourself how you can honour your body’s needs in difficult moments. Take inventory of your social media use and unfollow accounts that trigger negative body talk. It may help to talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist to counter unhelpful thoughts.

Mindfulness, Gratitude, & Acceptance

Use mindfulness strategies like a body scan meditation to bring awareness to the present moment. Notice your thoughts, feelings, and sensations with non-judgment. Acknowledge what your body has done for you; perhaps it has fought off an infection, transported you from one place to another, rejuvenated you during sleep, or allowed you to connect with a loved one. Consider how your body helps you engage in the meaningful parts of your life.

Remember, your appearance does not dictate your worth. While it may be helpful to foster body appreciation through body positivity, not loving your body does not make you a failure. If you are struggling with disordered eating, self-worth, or body image, our counsellors, registered dieticians, and nutritionists at Crossroads Collective are here for you. Our team of professionals can help you develop a respectful, flexible, and kind relationship with your body so you can focus on living a vibrant life.

References

Cohen, R., Fardouly, J., Newton-John, T., & Slater, A. (2019). #BoPo on Instagram: An experimental investigation of the effects of viewing body positive content on young women’s mood and body image. New Media & Society, 21(7), 1546-1564. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444819826530

Pellizzer, M. L., & Wade, T. D. (2023). Developing a definition of body neutrality and strategies for an intervention. Body Image, 46, 434-442. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2023.07.006

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