Why Demi Lovato Is Embracing Body Acceptance, Not Body Positivity

She's joining Jameela Jamil and Taylor Swift in the movement.

One year after being hospitalized for a drug overdose, Demi Lovato is speaking out about her year of growth and change.

In her first interview in over a year, the star—who has been open about her struggles with body image and eating disorders—stated that though she still struggles to love her body, she's working towards appreciating her health.

"We hear the term body positivity all the time. To be honest, I don't always feel positive about my body," she said. "Sometimes I do not like what I see. I don't sit there and dwell on it. I also don't lie to myself, used to look in the mirror if I was having a bad body image day and say 'I love my body, you're beautifully and wonderfully made.'" But it's not always that simple, she said.

"I don't have to lie to myself and tell myself I have an amazing body. All I have to say is 'I'm healthy.' In that statement, I express gratitude. I am grateful for my strength and things I can do with my body. I am saying I'm healthy and I accept the way my body is today without changing anything," she added.

Lovato's new ideas about body image reflect the concept of body neutrality, which contrast the message of the popular body positivity movement. Body positivity (of the sort that consists of repeating positive affirmations to yourself) can actually lead to higher levels of anxiety and guilt when you don't feel positive about your body. It can also result in the opposite of its purpose: more fixation on the body, leading to more self-scrutiny and more time and energy wasted.

In contrast, the body neutrality movement is based on appreciating what your body can do rather than what it looks like. Body neutrality or body acceptance is about embracing the fact that your body allows you to move, travel, touch, and dance. It's not about how the body looks, but rather how it feels.

In addition, some say that since body positivity is a storied movement dedicated to carving out spaces and ensuring rights for people who face discrimination or stigma due to their weight, body neutrality is more appropriate for people who are not overtly discriminated against due to their appearances. This is part of why Jameela Jamil is an outspoken advocate for the body neutrality movement as opposed to body positivity. "The [body positivity] movement is not for me," she said. "That movement was designed for women who are discriminated against, like in front of doctors and in our society, because of their size. That is a must-have movement for those people. I am slender, so I'm not discriminated against, because of my size."

Instead, the Good Place star focuses on putting her energy into things other than her body. "Getting on with my day and trying to utilize the minutes I used to spend thinking about food and calories, and cellulite, is how I skate around that to preserve my mental health," she said.

Ultimately, both body positivity and body neutrality are different ways of countering an obsession with weight, either because of your own stigma or society's stigma against it. Obsessing over your body—either by hating it or feeling guilty when you don't love it—is generally a tremendous waste of time, a misuse of energy that could be poured into literally anything else. It's also exactly what brands and other systems that profit off your self-hatred want you to do.

In the interview in which she opened up about her newfound body neutrality, Lovato also emphasized the fact that her journey is ongoing. "What a lot of people don't realize is that I'm actually an extremely sensitive person," Lovato said. "I am human, so be easy on me. And I'm so tired of pretending like I'm not human. That's one thing that I won't do anymore. When you say stuff, it affects me. I'm human."

That sounds like the end goal of the body positivity and body neutrality movements, which are ultimately about remembering that you're not only defined by how your body looks, but who you really are.

Show Comments ()