Body Love Versus Acceptance — What’s the Difference?

Body acceptance is a tool you can use to help you recover from an eating disorder. It developed in response to the body love or body positivity movement. While acceptance and love are both preferable to body hatred, it’s worth understanding the difference between body acceptance and body love. Doing so might help you on your journey to creating a more peaceful relationship with your body.

Critics say that body positivity can veer into toxic positivity, the drive to always be positive. This can include ignoring or shutting down any sadness or anger that may come up. Body image can be complex, and denying emotions as “unacceptable” perpetuates the habit of creating rules that constrain rather than learning acceptance.

Having strict rules around food is a hallmark of eating disorders. Body acceptance encourages releasing rigidity and control, so it can be a wonderful practice for someone recovering from an eating disorder.


Body acceptance is about making space for your physical body as well as all of your thoughts and emotions associated with it. That includes negative thoughts and self criticism—they happen, and that’s allowed!

While body love is more focused on optimism, body acceptance is about allowing, not controlling. It is centered around the belief that every human deserves to have a kind, supportive, and accepting relationship toward their body.


Body neutrality is another way of referring to body acceptance, as it conveys a similar stance of not “taking sides” in the battle of emotions and opinions that may be going on inside of you.

Acceptance or neutrality is a necessary part of healing—that’s the bottom line. Feeling love for your body is wonderful, but if you aren’t there yet, don’t sweat it.

We hope this blog will encourage you to explore what body acceptance means to you. You might find it a helpful tool in your eating disorder recovery toolkit.

Body acceptance feels like:

  • Dressing myself in clothing that is comfortable.
  • Allowing my hands to rest on a part of my body that I may have judgments about, allowing its shape to exist under my hands, just as it is. (This can be a hard one. If resting your hands on your body is too much, try letting your hands hover over the area.)
  • Gratitude that my body allows me to do so many things in the world: talk, walk, dance, eat, play, and connect with others.
  • Relaxing my belly—not holding it in.
  • Listening to what my body is saying: If my body says it’s hungry for something, I listen and honor it.
  • Lying on a big, flat, hot rock in the sun, as the radiant heat warms my bones.
  • Noticing when self criticism happens, and making space to allow those thoughts. They are real, so they are allowed. In making space, maybe I feel hurt or sadness in response to that criticism. Those feelings are allowed too. Making space to feel what is real for me is making space for the healing process.
  • Curating a social feed that uplifts me. If I notice a person or page is posting things that bring me anxiety or feelings of jealousy, I consider unfollowing or muting those channels. Check out our list of body-positive Instagram accounts on our resources page for some ideas.
  • Imagining the energy I want to put into the world. Who are the people that bring me joy and make me smile? How would it feel if I embodied and radiated that energy in myself?
  • Staying engaged with others—I don’t have to look perfect to connect with my friends and family. Human connection can be healing.


Ready to cultivate a more kind and supportive relationship with your body?

Evolve therapists and dietitians can help you on the path to eating disorder recovery. Get in touch for a free 15-minute intake call.