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Body Image is on a Spectrum

Body Image Spectrum

In my work as a therapist I encourage my clients to view body image as being on a spectrum. On one side of the spectrum, there’s body hatred and on the other there’s body positivity/love. In between exists body neutrality and body acceptance. Body neutrality is often a more achievable and reasonable goal to strive towards. Body neutrality involves tolerating the parts of your body that you dislike and not allowing that dislike to control your thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

Body positivity on the other hand, is the idea that people should actively feel proud of and happy with their body. Body positivity can often feel unattainable and insincere. If you hate your body, it may feel impossible and disingenuous to act as though you love your body. But, if you can work on reframing judgmental thoughts about your body to be more objective, and factual, that can often be a good start to getting to a place of tolerance. Additionally, trying to view your body from a standpoint of gratitude can help to replace some of the negative appearance based-thinking. Reflecting on the function of your body and what it can do for you, such as “I am thankful that my legs allow me to dance,” “I am grateful that my arms allow me to hug my loved ones,” can shift the perspective that your body is worthy based on appearance alone.

It is important to remember that if you are starting on the end of the spectrum involving body hate/dissatisfaction, achieving body neutrality may take a lot of work and time. Be patient with yourself!

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