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Learn more about the results we get at Within

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22 body neutral affirmations

Loving how your body looks can feel difficult or impossible when living in a cultural environment where narrow and oppressive body ideals are promoted, and body manipulation through diets, exercise, and even surgery is encouraged. But there are other ways to work towards a more caring and supportive relationship with your body that take the emphasis away from adoring your appearance or even focusing on your body's appearance at all.

One of these approaches is body neutrality, which emphasizes caring for and appreciating your body regardless of how you feel about how it looks. These body-neutral affirmations can help you build a better relationship with your body. 

6
 minute read
Last updated on 
February 16, 2023
Body-neutral affirmations
In this article

What is body neutrality, and why is it important?

As opposed to body positivity, which focuses on loving and celebrating your body as beautiful just the way it is, body neutrality takes an alternative approach to positive body image, creating space for you to feel both positively and negatively about your body and for your feelings to change day to day.

Many people find freedom in body neutrality since they aren't expected to always feel good about their bodies. This can be difficult in the face of constant diet culture messaging and systemic oppression. It's more about body acceptance vs. body positivity and recognizing that a healthy body image is not just about positivity.

Yoga for body neutrality

Body neutrality and radical self-acceptance

Body neutrality is similar to radical acceptance, which involves accepting your reality, even when it is difficult and painful, without getting caught up in emotional reactions. Accepting your circumstances can look like accepting the body you have, the challenges you experience, your triggers, shame, and beyond while being mindfully aware of the emotions that come up around them. Acknowledging various aspects of your body image and relationship to food and movement can be part of the healing process.

How body neutrality helps

The body neutrality movement has been helpful for many people because it helps meet you where you're at and provides room for growth. It doesn't pressure you to change your body or love your body as it is. Body neutrality also acknowledges that your body is just one part of you among many facets—your personality, talents, relationships, interests, and beyond. There are so many wonderful things that make you unique and define who you are.

Body neutrality vs. body positivity movement

When comparing body neutrality vs. body positivity, you'll notice some key differences, including what is considered a healthy relationship between your body and body image.

Body neutrality

  • Acknowledges the ups and downs of body image
  • Promotes respect for your body over love for how your body looks 
  • Acknowledges that your body is only one facet of who you are
  • Encourages caring for your body regardless of how you feel about it on a given day
  • Centers the ways your body allows you to experience the world over appearance 
  • Doesn't demand perfection
  • Can help you work through your feelings
  • Has been criticized for its ableism when it is presented with a focus on the body's abilities

Body positivity

  • Originally inspired by the 1960s fat acceptance movement but has since been co-opted by thin white women
  • Has been criticized for becoming exclusive, as body-positive messaging often fails to include those who are trans, non-binary, disabled, or not white.
  • Involves loving and celebrating your body as it is (positive affirmations vs. neutral affirmations)
  • Encourages you to date, wear swimsuits, pose for photos, travel, etc., in your body as it is now instead of trying to change your body first
  • Challenges unrealistic body standards and ideals
  • Inspires you to feel confident about being in your skin (i.e., your body and appearance)
  • In its current appropriated iteration, it can feel forced or unrealistic for many people 

Body neutral affirmations

Here are 22 body-neutral affirmations to help you start practicing body neutrality:

  1. I am more than just my appearance, weight, and shape. 
  2. My worth doesn't depend on how I look or how much I weigh.
  3. I am inherently a worthy and lovable person.
  4. It's okay for my body image to change throughout my life.
  5. I don't need to feel attractive in my own skin all the time to enjoy my life and relationships.
  6. I will respect my body.
  7. I deserve to enjoy delicious food.
  8. I deserve to wear clothes I like.
  9. I am grateful to have a body.
  10. I accept my body exactly as it is right now.
  11. I appreciate my body and what it does for me.
  12. My body is the least interesting thing about me.
  13. My body works hard and deserves compassion.
  14. My body deserves to be taken care of.
  15. My values have nothing to do with my appearance or weight.
  16. I will allow myself to rest when my body needs it.
  17. Allowing myself to eat intuitively is an act of love.
  18. I am more concerned with progress over perfection.
  19. Bodies come in different shapes and sizes.
  20. I view my body without judgment.
  21. Accepting my body is a revolutionary act.
  22. My relationship with my body is no one's business but my own.

Transgender and non-binary community

Some transgender and non-binary people may struggle with embracing body neutrality, especially if they experience gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is characterized by significant distress and unease due to incongruence between a person's assigned sex at birth and gender identity. For example, many transmasculine people may feel gender dysphoria related to their height, body shape, chests, or menstruation. For many trans folks, body neutrality can be a challenge because accepting and appreciating their bodies as they are may be impossible without access to appropriate gender-affirming care. 

However, body neutrality may be helpful for some trans folks if they approach it as a way to prioritize meeting their body's needs, even when experiencing gender dysphoria. It may feel beneficial for a trans or non-binary person to create their own body-neutrality affirmations, such as, "My body deserves care and compassion regardless of where I am at in my transition," or "I can appreciate what my body does for me even on days when I am feeling dysphoric."

People living in many different types of marginalized bodies may struggle with the idea of unconditionally loving one's body when the world around them does not see them from a neutral perspective. It may not feel accessible to radically accept experiences of discrimination and violence based on physical characteristics as neutral. Viewing self-care and self-advocacy as revolutionary acts in the face of oppression can bring so much value for some people, even when a neutral perspective is not possible.

Is body neutrality right for you?

Although body neutrality has many benefits for some people, it may not suit everyone. It's important to note that it's more than just body size. Approaches to body neutrality, which focus on appreciation for specific things that the body can do, aren't inclusive of everyone and still make appreciation and acceptance of the body conditional.

Some members of the disabled community have spoken up about the ableism associated with this approach, given that it focuses on body functioning, which can differ considerably from person to person. Moreover, your body's ability to do certain things for you should not determine your body image or self-esteem, especially since our body's capacities can change over time for various reasons, including aging, illness, and disabilities. 

Instead of focusing on how your body functions or how it can benefit you, you may want to try a more inclusive approach, centering around self-care and mental health. When you practice body neutrality, you assert that your body deserves care, compassion, and kindness, even if you have negative thoughts about your body or appearance. Viewing body neutrality through this model can help you to deprioritize functioning and appearance in favor of unconditional care.

Some things to try:
  • Stretching
  • Resting
  • Eating foods that you enjoy and meet your body's needs
  • Getting a massage
  • Meditating
  • Taking a bath
  • Practicing yoga
  • Treating yourself to a comfortable chair for work

Ultimately, only you can decide if body neutrality is a helpful approach for you. You may want to start using body-neutral affirmations and see how they make you feel and if they resonate with you and your healing journey.

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.

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