It’s time to trade in body positivity for body neutrality

Dec. 9, 2022

A young girl logs into Instagram to see the world’s most beautiful models.

As she scrolls, she comes across advertisements for weight loss programs and skincare regimens. Her friends also notice this and find themselves frequently complaining about how they look. 

In response to impossible beauty standards, the body positivity movement promotes an individual’s appearance by shifting the discussion about insecurities to self-love. The overall goal of the movement is to further confidence and a healthy body image.

Despite the good intentions of this movement, its effects are not all favorable. For one, plus-size acceptance might prevent people who are overweight from recognizing the extent of their weight gain and encourage unhealthy behaviors. 

Complacency blinds people from recognizing the health consequences of being overweight, putting them at risk for serious diseases and health conditions such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, there are many people who use this movement as an excuse to be unhealthy

Another problem with the body positivity movement has been showcased by one of its most popular proponents, singer-songwriter Lizzo. In December 2020, she came under fire for completing a 10-day juice detox. She was accused of perpetuating diet culture, a social expectation of how everyone should eat, despite choosing to do a detox for her well-being.

These days, it is all too frequent to see plus-size celebrities being criticized for making positive lifestyle changes. This contradicts a movement that is meant to uplift people and inspire them to be happier and healthier. Ironically, the movement conveys the message that people must look a certain way if they want to promote a healthy body image. 


While the movement empowers plus-size models, thinner people have become known as the enemies of body positivity, which shouldn’t be the case. This movement has often antagonized thin people, which is another way of defining how individuals should look. 

Additionally, the body positivity movement promotes toxic positivity. The figureheads leading this movement express contentment with their bodies regardless of any possible insecurities society might point out. 

On one hand, this can improve confidence, but it can also be used to shun those who are open about their struggles with their body image. 

In a world where beauty standards are constantly changing, it is okay for people to feel insecure about some features of their bodies. Toxic positivity may prevent them from embracing this natural response, hindering their journey to self-acceptance. 

Body positivity is not the only solution to this issue. Body neutrality, a newer approach to self-image, advocates accepting one’s body for what it is and what it can do. Beauty is not at the center of this movement. Instead, the body is looked at for its functional value and what it can do.

Instead of addressing insecurities with positive affirmations, body neutrality encourages people to recognize and process their feelings. Body neutrality also creates space for other existing social stigmas that the body positivity movement fails to include, such as acne, disabled bodies and skin color. 

As society becomes less beauty-oriented than it once was, people should leave the body positivity movement behind and adopt body neutrality. These practices and mindsets will lead to a better quality of life and a more genuine acceptance of individuals of all shapes and sizes.

bookmark icon