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NEW YEAR, ‘NEU’ LOOK? – Taylor Swift champions it. Fashion and beauty marketers are paying attention to it. Will 2023 be the year of ‘body neutrality’?

Our industry does have a role to play in helping shift the focus from body positivity to body neutrality.

Not heard of the ‘body neutrality’ movement yet? 2023 might be when you do.

This is the year some tip the nascent ideology to replace the fashion industry’s current obsession with ‘body positivity.’

MedicalNewsToday says the #bodypositivity movement ‘emerged on Instagram in 2012. It is now incredibly popular, accounting for 13 million social media posts by 2020.’

But, writing in The Conversation, Virem Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, says the social media convention of ‘“loving your body” – no matter what – can feel impossible at the best of times.’

So, he believes Gen Z’s ‘Zoomers’ may begin to embrace body neutrality instead.

As Swami explains, ‘Body neutrality is sometimes pitched as a “middle ground” between the polarising messages of loving or hating your body. It’s aimed at people who have become disillusioned with the body positivity movement, and those who find constantly loving your body too difficult .’

The Guardian says the phrase has been in use since 2015, ‘popularized by the Vermont fitness coach Anne Poirier.’ And claims neutrality is ‘the idea that women’s bodies should just not be commented on at all.’

Key names in the marketing community are taking notice.

Helen James, Managing Director of agency CPB London, writes in Marketing Week, ‘our industry does have a role to play in helping shift the focus from body positivity to body neutrality, which means forgetting ideals, letting go of so-called flaws and letting people just be.’

As James goes on, ‘enter body neutrality – promoting the amazing things our bodies can do and feel but divorcing that from any evaluation of our physical appearance. Think of it as body positivity without the beauty bit.’

But those last points may present some systemic challenges for the fashion and beauty industries. If Gen Z collectively decides to ‘just be,’ why, then, would they need fashion and beauty products at all?

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