Body image

Debunking the buzzwords behind body image

Body positivity, body confidence, body neutrality, and body respect are often used interchangeably. Which is the right one for you? Should you even care?

The Flourish team
A colorful image meant to replicate a google search containing the following searches: What is body positivity? What is body confidence? What is body neutrality? and What is body respect?

No one escapes body image issues. Body image, as a concept, is a complicated thing. For a lot of women, it’s something they’re actively working on or working to accept. When doing the work it's hard to know how to approach it. On a quick search, the terms "body positivity", "body confidence", "body neutrality", and "body respect" are often used interchangeably, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Which is the right one for you? Should you even care?

Read on to learn what each of the mentioned body image terms mean as well as some affirmations you can use on a bad body image day.

Body positivity

Let's start with a word on body positivity. Body positivity isn't as much of an individual practice as it is a social justice movement that emerged from the fat acceptance movement of the 1960s, thanks to activists like Margaret K. Bass, Johnny Tillman, and members of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. Body positivity is meant to center and uplift the bodies of marginalized people. Many feel that the movement has been watered down and whitewashed, especially in how it's expressed on social media.

Body positive affirmation: I reject the harmful things society has made me feel about my body.
A definition of body positivity: A social justice movement that emerged from the fat acceptance movement of the 1960s to center and uplift the bodies of marginalized people. Weflourish.com and @weflourishapp listed on the bottom of the image.

Body confidence

In light of the roots of body positivity and out of respect for who it's truly intended for as a social justice movement, we'll refer to body confidence as the individual practice of learning to love your body as it stands today.

Body confidence affirmation: My body deserves love and adoration today and every day.
A definition of body confidence: The individual practice of learning to love your body as it stands today. Weflourish.com and @weflourishapp listed on the bottom of the image.

Body neutrality

So if body confidence is going to the beach and feeling sexy in your favorite bikini, then body neutrality is going to the beach in whatever you feel comfortable in and enjoying the feeling of sand between your toes and ocean water on your skin. Body neutrality is a mindset that focuses on how our bodies make us feel instead of how they look. When practicing body neutrality, you see your body as a tool for accomplishing the things you want in life, but you don't obsess over how it looks or what you want to change about it.

Body confidence affirmation: I am grateful to my body for all it has helped me accomplish.
A definition of body neutrality: A mindset that focuses on how our bodies make us feel instead of how they look. Weflourish.com and @weflourishapp listed on the bottom of the image.

Body respect

Lastly, we have body respect, which is the most action-oriented body image practice. It's a practice you can implement, regardless of where your body image is from day to day. Body respect is about rejecting the concept that our bodies have to be perfect for us to treat them well. Even on bad body image days, you can choose to move your body in a way that you enjoy or to eat based on your hunger and fullness cues - simply because your body deserves to be treated that way.

Body confidence affirmation: I will speak to myself about my body in the same way I would talk to my best friend.
A definition of body respect: rejecting the concept that our bodies have to be perfect for us to treat them well. Weflourish.com and @weflourishapp listed on the bottom of the image.

We hope this article helped you understand the different approaches to addressing your body image. The beauty is that there are various options available and it’s up to you to pick which one is right for you. With our members we've seen that the more approaches they try, the more effective they are at managing their body image issues. However, everyone is different and there are no hard-and-fast rules governing the best way to achieve contentment with your own body.

 

A list of affirmations to improve body image using different approaches. Body positivity: I reject the harmful things society has made me feel about my body. Body confidence: My body deserves love and adoration today and every day. Body neutrality: I am grateful to my body for all it has helped me accomplish. Body respect: I will speak to myself about my body in the same way I would talk to my best friend. Weflourish.com and @weflourishapp listed on the bottom of the image.


Author
Headshot of Claire Siegel
Claire Siegel
RDN, LD
Co-founder, CEO
Claire Siegel is the founder and CEO of Flourish. Claire has made it her life’s mission to help women create a sustainable approach to their physical and mental well-being.
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