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The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

Developing a body-neutral mindset

Body image is a common issue that can be worsened by advertisments and products. While some champion a body-positive mindset to combat this, a body-neutral mindset can be more helpful for others. (Cartoon by Dane Coyne)

Body positivity is based on the idea that everyone in any body should be confident and happy. It creates the mindset that all bodies are beautiful. While this concept has been championed for years, many fail to see the underlying harm that comes in the movement by basing someone’s self-worth on the appearance of their body. Rather, we should be focusing on body neutrality, another rising trend that promotes loving your body for what it does for you, and being at peace with the way it looks.

“Body neutrality is more focused on liking your body, and it encourages individuals to shift their focus away from their physical appearance and towards other aspects of their identity,” health and physical education teacher Kristyn Crawford said.

An example of body neutrality may be thinking about your body from the standpoint of what it does for you. Author, writer and speaker Jessi Kneeland offered her perspective to emphasize the goal of body neutrality in an article for TIME Magazine.

“Say to yourself, in your head or out loud, your big complaints about your body, and follow each one up with the phrases, ‘That’s not a problem’ and ‘That makes sense and is okay’ or ‘That doesn’t mean anything bad about me,’” Kneeland said.

When thinking about body neutrality and body positivity, the ideas seem very similar. Both are focused on balancing acceptance with personal well-being, making the difference between the two a thin yet important line. Body positivity creates a toxic mindset towards bodies in various ways. It magnifies one’s visual appearance and creates standards in the beauty community, misinforms people through advertisements and causes unhealthy habits. As the mindset of constant positivity stresses the idea that we have to be proud and confident in ourselves, it creates unrealistic expectations. This added pressure only increases the possibility of letting yourself down.

“I think body positivity is supposed to make people feel comfortable in their own body,” senior Calee Lukoshus said. “However, there are always going to be people unhappy with how they look, so they will try to reach unreachable body goals. I don’t think it’s the body positivity movement’s fault that this is happening.”

However, this is not to say that Lukoshus sees the movement as always positive when trying to combat negative thoughts towards it. She explained that some of the negative perceptions come from old ways and trends reappearing in the beauty world.

“I think as much as people try to make it positive, there’s always going to be a negative aspect to it,” Lukoshus said. “I’m glad there is a positive mindset towards all body types in the beauty community now, but as old trends are coming back, the bad body image issues from those eras are also coming back.”

There is a divided opinion on how to approach beauty standards as they evolve. Some believe that addressing the negative aspects will bring more healing and positivity. Others feel that a more neutral standpoint is necessary in such situations.

“I do take issue with the notion that we should be able to feel a constant flow of celebratory happiness and affectionate gratitude toward our bodies, or that we have to joyfully embrace every dimple, every jiggle, every inch. That’s neither realistic nor necessary,” Kneeland said.

The marketing push behind the body positivity movement is a significant contributor to why the concepts behind it have changed in connotation. Many advertisements use similar phrases like, “All bodies are beautiful” and “My body is perfect.” These can be positive words to practice for some, but to others they can be extremely harmful to one’s mindset if they are already insecure about their body. If one believes something is wrong with their body but is constantly being fed these promotional phrases, it can bring more tension into play. The stress between wanting to love your body and feeling bad about it is equally as harmful as trying to keep up with the stereotypes and standards.

These advertisements may communicate an important topic, but describing what all bodies are like is vague and inapplicable to everyone. It is false to say that one can always be in peak health. When factoring in height and individual health complications, making broad statements directed towards everyone is not the right action. Unhealthy habits stemming from false advertisements are easy to accept, but tricky to combat. Crawford, bringing in her knowledge of health, agreed.

“The focus on body positivity can sometimes overshadow the importance of overall well-being and the impact of lifestyle choices on our health,” Crawford said. “Embracing all body types and promoting self-confidence should go hand in hand with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

The world of body positivity and body neutrality is challenging to navigate. It stems from health, clothing and the overall beauty-related community. It is all about learning to find a balance between acceptance, healthy habits and being at ease with your situation through a mindful approach.

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About the Contributor
Rafika Khan
Rafika Khan, Editor-in-Chief of Web and Co-Copy Editor
Name: Rafika Khan   Position: Editor-in-Chief of Web and Co-Copy Editor   Graduation year: 2024   A few sentences about me: In my free time, I enjoy listening to music and watching movies. I am excited to continue my third year of journalism with the Krier this year!   My favorite…   Movie: Pride & Prejudice (2005) Show: Derry Girls Sport: Volleyball Animal: Cat Book: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan Food: Pasta Song: Collision by Stray Kids Band / Artist: Stray Kids