Why Body Neutrality Is Better Than Body Positivity
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Health and Wellness

We Need To Ditch Body Positivity ASAP — There, I Said It

It's time to end our culture's obsession with women's appearances.

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We Need To Ditch Body Positivity ASAP — There, I Said It

If you were to search the phrase "body positivity" on a social media platform like Instagram, you would see hundreds upon thousands of pictures of women's bodies, many with captions proclaiming their beauty and value. These captions may include, but are not limited to: "My body is beautiful!" or "Thick women don't turn heads…we break necks!" These posts attempt to combat the overwhelming pressure felt by women to conform to a conventional standard of beauty. By posting and sharing these images and mottos, women claim to be taking their power back.

However, I would argue that this supposed empowerment only exacerbates the obsession with the female body's appearance, and furthers the idea that a woman's worth is intrinsically tied to her appearance.

While some subscribers to body positivity may agree that it's flawed, they may continue to support it since they see no better option. However, there is a better option — it's called body neutrality.

Body neutrality is the philosophy of neither hating your body nor celebrating its appearance. Rather, body neutrality celebrates everything your body can do for you and promotes feeling largely neutral toward its appearance.

Where body positivity says "you're beautiful," body neutrality says "you do not exist to be beautiful."

Our bodies do not exist to be attractive, no matter what we may be fed by media. Our bodies exist to function and aid us in achieving our goals. Furthermore, someone who is convinced that they are unattractive will not just abandon this deeply ingrained mindset because they saw a social media post that told them they're beautiful. If this were the case, then body image-related issues would have been resolved the second the infamous Dove "Real Beauty" campaign was released in 2004. With campaigns like these, the body positivity movement has only drawn attention toward women's bodies, instead of away from it, and has allowed corporations to capitalize on women's body image.

Instead of spending precious brain space on thoughts about our bodies (whether positive or negative), women should use that space to consider the things that truly matter. This is not to say that you are not allowed to care about how you look in order to have a positive body image, but that you should see your appearance and your value as completely separate entities.

Consider all the time we spend thinking about our appearances. Wouldn't that time be better spent pursuing our passions, maintaining our relationships, or changing the world?

While the body positivity movement may have been helpful for many women in the past, it was merely a bandaid over the much larger problem of the obsession with women's appearances. This issue has no "quick fix," but at this point, our best path forward in addressing it is to encourage women not to see their bodies as attractive no matter what, but to detach their self worth from their appearances altogether.

To end with a quote from Dr. Renee Engeln, whose book "Beautysick" is exceptionally nuanced and extensive in tackling the subject of women's body image, "Leaving the world in better shape than how you found it is more important than the shape of your body." There are a whole lot of problems that the women of our generation will have to solve — it is in the world's best interest that they are not encouraged to waste copious amounts of their energy and time dwelling on their appearance instead.

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