The Truth About Body Neutrality

Body neutrality is buzzing and for some very good reasons. Perhaps you have heard the term body neutrality and brushed it off as one of those "trendy" self-declarations, or maybe you have not heard the phrase at all. Whether you are hip to it or not, after learning the basics, you may end up having a body neutrality mentality.

According to Healthline, in 2015 there was an uptick in online search engines for the words "body neutrality," and it was during the same year that wellness and intuitive eating coach Anne Poirier BS, CSCS, CIEC, created the Body Neutrality workshop. Poirier tells The Cut, "Body neutrality is experiential and not something that happens overnight ... It's one awareness at a time, one thought at a time." 

Popular bloggers, like Gabi Gregg, and celebs, like Jameela Jamil, publicly support the body neutrality movement, and have been outspoken about it, creating more of an online hype. Master SoulCycle instructor Maddy Ciccone tells Byrdie, "Body neutrality is much more beneficial in so many ways because it is a more authentic and empowering approach to acceptance." So, what exactly is body neutrality?

Body neutrality is about acceptance and feeling good

Body neutrality is not the same as body positivity, says Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, author of "Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women's Lives." While the body positive movement does hold value, it continues to keep the focus on the body, which can be a problem. She tells The Cut, "The times I am happiest are when I'm not thinking about my body at all!" 

The body positive movement has become highly commercialized and wide-spread, but for some, it's not without flaws. According to HuffPost, the popular thought process may have some people feeling stressed if they aren't feeling very body positive. Even with all the self-love and acceptance, it can still be challenging to coo comments at your naked self in the mirror.

On the body positivity movement, Elizabeth Wassenaar, MD, psychiatrist and medical director of the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, tells Insider that it, "can be sometimes a stretch for people because we live in an environment that does not necessarily encourage women [to] feel positive about their bodies." Alternately, body neutrality places value on what your body can do, and how it can change, move, and feel, rather than how it looks (via HuffPost).

Putting body neutrality into practice

Making the shift from body positivity, or negativity, to body neutrality is not as far of a stretch as you may think. According to Healthline, when you focus on your body's internal magnificence, such as your major organs, muscles, and bones, you can start appreciating its abilities and nonphysical characteristics. Taking the focus from your external appearance and putting it on your mind and your spirit can help you understand what truly makes you who you are.

A person who practices body neutrality changes how they think and speak about themselves, so affirming statements that may not feel truthful, like "I am so sexy and happy with my body as it is," might be replaced with "I love that my body can get through an entire Peloton ride." Psychotherapist Alison Stone tells HuffPost, "Body neutrality is simply about being ... without passing judgment or harboring strong emotions about how we look."

Dr. Wassenaar tells Insider that body neutrality is more thinking about what you enjoy, as well as your values. Stone teaches her clients how to focus on feeling healthy and happy, rather than their appearance. Dr. Wassenaar shares that slowing down and noticing how you are feeling is an important part of body neutrality, and suggests taking a few moments throughout the day to ask, "What is my body telling me right now?" She also encourages exercising, practicing mindfulness and intuitive eating, rather than a strict diet.