Node Smith, ND
Most of us struggle with body image to a certain degree. We can be really hard on ourselves. Social media, magazine covers, television and movies don’t help. We are constantly bombarded with the idea that there is a cultural standard for beauty, and happiness and health can only come from looking a certain way.
An entire industry profits immensely on you not liking your body
An entire industry, and billions of dollars are spent every year ensuring that this cultural belief continues to pervade. And it isn’t necessarily that there is an “ideal body type,” so much as “you can’t have it” that is the powerful driving force of so much of the angst around body image. Media establishes an unrealistic mold into which we all try to fit, and then it changes it seasonally, and creates contexts through money, fame, and success that are literally impossible to reach. So, even when we reach our ideal body goals, we’re still not satisfied, because there are other elements of the cultural “ideal” that begin to focus on.
Confidence is generated from the inside-out
Body image is therefore smoke and mirrors, and the only way to build confidence in our body is to generate it from inside of ourselves. The dominant theme of the world around us is to do the exact opposite, to make us feel horrible about our bodies. After reading a recent interview with a psychologist on body image I compiled a short list of 5 elements that are crucial to beginning to build confidence in our own shape and size.
5 crucial elements to build confidence in shape and size:
- Concentrate on health – Health can be seen in virtually every size and shape, and it is important to concentrate on the health of our body, and not how it looks. When our body is healthy, we feel better, when we feel better, we feel more confident. There are factors of health that do coincide with body shape and size, however, concentrating on building a healthier body will ensure weight loss way more than concentrating on losing weight, guaranteed!
- Don’t compare – Its hard not to compare ourselves with others. Keep in mind that many of the comparisons that we make are absolutely unrealistic. The models in magazines have all been ran through multiple filters in photoshop, and everyone’s facebook photo has also been severely manipulated. So, in essence whenever we’re comparing to any sort of photo we should also acknowledge that a photo of ourselves could probably be made to look just as “perfect.” And on social media, remember that no one ever posts their normal life, it’s literally a forum to make the world think that everyone’s life is the most exciting thing in the world, when in actuality, we’re all basically in the same boat.
- Do activities you enjoy – Doing things we like doing gets us out of a headspace of judgement and makes us feel better about ourselves. If you don’t like going to the beach and hanging out in a swimsuit, then don’t! If what really lights your fire is line dancing, puzzles, or going to zoo, then do that. Taking care of ourselves is the best way to tell ourselves that we matter and are appreciated. This doesn’t have anything to do with body-image, but rather body-love.
- Practice positive self-talk – This can be hard for many of us. Better understanding the voice we use when we talk to ourselves is vital in building a better relationship with ourselves. Are we constantly critical, judging and shaming ourselves? Learning how to talk with ourselves in a loving and kind voice is incredibly powerful, and can help shape our entire lives for the better, not just our body-image.
- Concentrate on your attributes – instead of concentrating on all the things you dislike about how you look – try considering the things about yourself that you truly love, and find inspiring. Here’s a hint: What aspects of yourself are others drawn to? Now go and love on those attributes of yourself and watch your confidence bloom.
Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.