Community Read 2022: Understanding Body Neutral Language

Community Read 2022: Understanding Body Neutral Language

What is body neutrality?

Body neutrality can be defined in a number of ways, but generally speaking it means regarding your body as it operates in its daily functions. It is neither positive or negative (or it acknowledges both the positive and negatives) but rather an acceptance of “this is my body.” You can read more about what experts define body neutrality as here. And you can read about what experts describe as the difference between body neutrality and body positivity is here.


Are you working toward body neutrality? Read more about the non-linear process here.


Fat Is Not a Bad Word

Many fat activists want you to know fat is not a bad word! Fat is an adjective that means “a person that possesses excess skin.” Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not! Society negatively changed the connotation of the word over time, but the fat community is reclaiming it! You can read more about the taking back of the word fat in this awesome 2019 Teen Vogue article.


Ableism & Fatphobia

Differently abled, chronically ill, and neurodivergent folks are often left out of the body neutrality conversation. Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” in the 1990s, and that word is even more important today! All of our identities intersect, and when discussing bodies and functions, we must remember that all bodies are good bodies and all bodies function differently.

Eastern Illinois University created an awesome LibGuide about ableism and fatphobia with some links to different articles about inclusive language.


Fat Activism

Fat activists across the world fight for many different intersectional causes from medical autonomy to representation to accurate media portrayals. When learning about body neutral language and how we discuss people’s bodies, we should rely on authentic voices, such as activists who are doing the work.


For example, Aubrey Gordon wrote the book, What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat. She got her start at Self Magazine as Your Fat Friend, where she wrote tons of articles about fat activism and the language we should be using to be more inclusive.


There are tons of other amazing people doing the work, so check out this article that recommends 40+ activists to follow and watch!

No matter where you are on your journey toward body liberation, positivity, or neutrality, there are tons of resources and voices out there to help and support you!