Let’s not get it twisted: Body positivity is, in theory, a good thing. In practice, though, it creates a mindset that’s toxically black and white. The opposite of positive is, of course, negative. By that logic, if you’re feeling anything less than body positive, you’re body negative, which just sounds like a bummer. That puts a whole lot of pressure on folks who preach body positivity to feel happy about their bodies every moment of every day. It’s unrealistic and unsustainable. Body neutrality, on the other hand, allows for a middle ground.
The body positivity movement has also strayed further and further from its origins among fat women. As Lizzo pointed out in a recent TikTok, as the body positive movement has trickled down to medium-sized people and skinny people, “Fat people are still getting the short end of this movement. We’re still getting sh*t on, we’re still getting talked about, meme’d, shamed. And no one cares anymore because it’s like, ‘body positivity is for everybody.’ Yes, please be positive about your body, please use our movement to empower yourself. That’s the point. But the people who created this movement—big women, big brown and Black women, queer women—are not benefitting from the mainstream success of it.”
Plus, research has shown that the constant repetition of positive affirmations that you don’t believe can actually be destructive. A study in the Journal of Psychological Science concluded that “repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, such as individuals with high self-esteem, but backfire for the very people who need them the most.” Translation: Telling yourself “I love every single part of my body,” when you don’t believe it is going to make you feel the opposite.