Body Movements

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Body Image, Body Appreciation, Body Positivity, Body Love, Fat Acceptance, Fat Activism, Weight Neutrality, Weight Inclusivity, and You!

Just as there is a spectrum of body sizes there’s also a growing number of approaches designed to help us be more aware and intentional about how we think and feel about our body.

On this page, I do my best to give you at least a very basic understanding of the more popular movements. By creating this page as a resource to help you increase your awareness of these groups and perspectives I’m hoping that you will find the unique support and community that feels “just right” for you.

This page can help you figure out which approach (or approaches) will work best to help you and your daughter feel more comfortable in your own skin as well as ramp up defenses against the urge to diet, restrict, or overexercise.

Some movements will resonate with you more than others. Some, surprisingly, might stir up internal conflict. They may even cause you to feel worse before you feel better. And that makes sense. Making change often feels uncomfortable. Ideally, you can work through feelings that come up and gain powerful insights into your own perspective on body. The results—feeling more confident, in control, and at-ease in your body—will be more than worth it.

If you or your daughter need extra support you can find a list of resources here.

There’s no one right movement or point-of-view for everyone.

You may find that you take different elements of each and make up your own approach.  If you’re learning about a movement for the first time, I hope this page helps you to connect with a positive, like-minded community where you or your daughter can feel more clearly seen and more well-understood. Books, blogs, communities, social media accounts, and related hashtags will be listed for you to access.

Forgive me as I make mistakes or fumble through the use of language or the nuances of some of the movements. I, too, am growing with my own learning. (And you can expect the page will be updated from time to time to reflect by own best understanding.)

Enjoy finding what you need when it comes to feeling good in your body—and supporting your daughter with the same.

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How to Use This Page

I have a favorite approach for improving body image. However, that doesn’t mean it is right for everyone or touches on every challenge your daughter may face.

I encourage you to take a few of these approaches for a test drive.

Designate one full day to practicing body positivity, then body acceptance, then fat acceptance, and so on.

Decide for yourself which one feels most natural—or even use a blend of several.

With your own experimenting in mind, talk about the different approaches with your daughter. Encourage her to think about what makes sense and feels right from her own perspective.

Regardless of her age, do your best to model the behaviors by saying body positive or body appreciative comments about your own body as opposed to suggesting she do it herself.

Hearing a mother talk about how much she loves or appreciates her body—as opposed to how much she is ashamed about or wants to change it—will nudge, if not empower or give her permission to, do the same.

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What is Body Appreciation?

This approach teaches us to focus on our bodies from a place of gratitude.

Many of the moms I’ve worked with who struggle with their own body image tell me that body appreciation “feels right” and “is easier to pull off than trying to feel positive all the time.” Personally, I couldn’t agree more.

In addition to encouraging my clients to use it, I actively practice it myself and model it for my own daughters.

Body appreciation emphasizes the idea that our bodies have unique abilities, skills, strengths, and power. We can appreciate our bodies for any gift or task they perform for us at any moment, including pumping blood through our bodies, thinking or breathing.

I love this approach because it has nothing to do with appearance, ability, or size and everything to do with recognizing that, no matter how uncomfortable we are with our looks, how much discrimination we face, or illness or disease we struggle with, our bodies are intelligent, resilient part of being.

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What is Body Positivity?

This approach encourages us to feel good about our bodies regardless of their size, shape, size, color, sexuality, abilities, or disabilities. Having a body-positive approach can include saying something like “you’re beautiful just the way you are,” for example.

One drawback is this approach continues to emphasize focusing on appearance. Additionally, telling ourselves (or being told) that we are “perfect” or “beautiful” can feel uncomfortable if we clearly don’t meet ideals or simply disagree. This dissonance can make body dissatisfaction worse.

Lastly, this movement is sometimes criticized as being co-opted by people in nearly perfect-looking bodies. Why is this a problem? When a person who is close to the cultural ideal says she’s embracing her “flaws” and encourages others to do the same, it can further isolate those who are much further removed from accepted standards.

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What is Body Neutrality & Inclusivity?

Where body positivity encourages you to feel good about your body despite your differences, body neutrality teaches you to feel neither positive nor negative about it.

Being body neutral may be an effective approach for some. However, if you or your daughter live far outside cultural norms it may feel inauthentic or impossible to try to neutralize all your feelings towards your bodies.

Some activists point out that it’s wrong to ask a person experiencing stigma due to weight, disability, race, or appearance, for example, to be neutral about their body. It denies the fact that they’re having a unique experience in the world due to how far removed their appearance is from what is considered “ideal.”

With this in mind, they advocate for a more nuanced weight inclusive perspective that acknowledges diversity in body size, shape, and form.

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What is Body Acceptance?

This approach is all about accepting your body for all that it is and isn’t without the added pressure of having to feel positive or good about it all the time.

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What is Fat Acceptance & Size Acceptance?

Fat acceptance might best be described as the opposite of having an anti-fat bias or being fat-phobic.

For those who identify not only as struggling with body image but also feel oppressed by larger systems that perpetuate discrimination and marginalization, this movement is said to feel empowering, decrease feelings of isolation and improve relationships with a body.

Contrary to what some may think or say, this movement doesn’t encourage people to be fat or promote larger bodies as better bodies, it helps those living in larger bodies to enjoy a life with more dignity and respect.

Fat acceptance counters cultural norms, so it can make people uncomfortable. If this is you, I recommend checking out an incredible collection of moving and insightful essays from Aubrey Gordon who wrote a column for SELF Magazine called My Fat Friend. (If you’re a podcast fanatic, Aubrey is also the cohost of a popular podcast called Maintenance Phase.)

Interested in making your workplace or community more size inclusive? Find ideas and resources at We Can All Go.

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