top of page

Acceptance vs. Approval - The first step to healing your relationship with your body

nature picture of flowers, body acceptance, body positivity

In the body-positive world, there’s a whole lot of “LOVE YOUR BODY LOVE YOUR BODY LOVE YOUR BODY” going on.

There’s nothing wrong with this.

Loving our bodies would be a wonderful achievement. But for many people, especially people with long-held negative beliefs or distorted views of themselves, finding self-love can feel like a distant dream.

Loving our bodies is a form of approval. But accepting our bodies is the first step to healing.


The Difference Between Acceptance and Approval

Years ago, I was sitting in group therapy discussing body image. As I was listening to another woman talk about how hard it was to love herself, I chimed in and said, "You know, what if we tried to just accept these parts of our body rather than love them right now? I think acceptance is different than approval."

This group member and many of my clients set out with the common goal of trying to love and approve of their imperfections. But that's not the first step. First you must accept them. There’s a subtle difference between the two.


Approval = Liking Something

Approval means you like something — giving it a thumbs up. 👍

The body positivity movement often focuses on approval. The goal is to like and even feel proud of our curves, dimples, and boob sweat. Approval attaches value to our bodies. If hating our bodies is a negative charge, then approving of our bodies is a positive charge. We’re saying, “Hey, I like you.”

But approval is often the result of a lot of hard work and loving our bodies can feel like a far-off goal for many people at times.

Acceptance = Being With What Is

Acceptance means being with what is - without a value judgment. We can accept something and still not like it.

Read that again. 👉 You can accept your body and still not love with it.

Acceptance is surrendering to what is. What exists. Anything other than acceptance is a rejection of truth, a rejection of facts, and that rejection causes tension. Rejecting what's real leads to frustration and disappointment.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

mindfulness, body acceptance, body image, body positive, body neutrality, mindful awareness, self love, self compassion


Practicing Body Acceptance


Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment without judgment. This is what we're trying to do with our bodies. To notice them, be with them as they are right now, and not place judgment on them.

One way to work on accepting your body is through a body scan meditation. This is a simple mindfulness practice, often done while lying down (yessss, total relaxation), where you bring your attention to every body part - one by one - and simply get curious about it.

You can find loads of body scan meditations on YouTube, the Insight Timer app, and the Calm app.

Body neutral affirmations

If body positivity is the result of approval, then body neutrality is the result of acceptance.

Here are 10 body-neutral affirmations that you can begin incorporating into your healing journey with your body:

  • My body and I are getting to know each other more and more every day.

  • My body will tell me what it needs.

  • My body is wired to survive and protect me.

  • My body is home to my spirit.

  • My body and I are on the same team.

  • I will offer my body respect rather than criticism.

  • My body will look different in different seasons of life.

  • I honor the effort my body makes every day to keep me alive.

  • My appearance does not determine my worth.

  • I seek connection with my body.

I encourage you to strive for acceptance rather than approval at the beginning of your body healing journey. The moment we stop resisting what is real, what is true, what's right in front of us, the moment we feel peace.


The Energy Required to Approve vs. Accept Your Body

The Exhaustion of Seeking Approval

Trying to change your body (or fiercely love it) requires a lot of energy and action. Approval often feels like a finish line you're constantly chasing. A path to finally feeling like your body is good enough to like or love. This is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting.

The Peace of Acceptance

Acceptance, on the other hand, is about allowing yourself to be as you are, without the constant need to change or improve.

It’s about recognizing your worth without conditions. Acceptance doesn’t demand the same energy that seeking approval does. It’s a state of being rather than a state of doing.

When you practice acceptance, you give yourself permission to rest. You allow your body and mind to relax into what is true in the present moment. This doesn’t mean you give up on self-improvement. It means you pursue these goals from a place of self-care rather than self-criticism while simultaneously accepting what is real right now.

Acceptance as Surrender

Acceptance is a surrendering. It’s letting go of the struggle against reality. Imagine the relief of no longer having to fight against your natural self. Acceptance means acknowledging your body’s current state without labeling it as good or bad. It’s about observing and being with your body as it is, rather than constantly feeling the need to change it or love it.

This surrender uses much less energy. Instead of pushing against the current, you’re flowing with it.

River flowing over rocks, body acceptance, body positivity


Your path forward

Healing your relationship with your body involves understanding the difference between acceptance and approval.

While the body positivity movement encourages us to love our bodies, this can often feel like an unattainable goal, especially for those with deep-seated negative beliefs about themselves.

Acceptance, however, offers a more accessible and sustainable path to healing. Acceptance means allowing your body to be as it is, without attaching value judgments. It’s about embracing reality and finding peace in the present moment.

As you embark on or continue your body healing journey, remember that acceptance is the first step. It’s not about giving up on self-improvement but about approaching it from a place of self-care and respect.

You may find that one day the aspect of yourself you've spent so long working to accept has slowly shifted into liking and then maybe one day loving. That's possible, but never required or the expectation.

Simply being with yourself, as you are right now, will lead you to the peace you're seeking.



bottom of page