Pursue What Matters
Episode 25: Tackling Body Image with Dr. Anna Packard
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Today on the podcast, I’m talking about a topic that many of us don’t like to admit, may be getting in the way for us in our love and work. We may joke about it. There’s definitely plenty of jokes about this topic, but most of us aren’t actually dealing with it. And I’m so excited. I’ve invited one of my favorite people on the planet to discuss this topic with me today. So you’ve got to join us.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:24
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the Pursue What Matters Podcast, where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Okay, so what is this pesky thing that takes up energy distracts us sometimes even undermines our work, our relationships and our self confidence? What has this kind of hold on us? So it’s body image. And before you say that this has nothing to do with me, stay on the line, because you may be surprised about the unexpected ways. body image concerns show up for you in love and work. So I’m so excited to help me talk about this topic today is one of my best friends. My partner in crime, I always say you’re my partner in crime, which you know, hopefully we never committed trouble
Dr. Anna Packard 0:31
We’re saving the world.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:37
There you go. That’s better. That’s better. So in our specialty clinic, balance, health and healing, and an all around amazing psychologist, Dr. Anna Packard, so welcome.
Dr. Anna Packard 1:47
Thank you. It’s so good to be here.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:49
I know. Like I’ve been conniving away to get you on the podcast
Dr. Anna Packard 1:53
I know I’ve been waiting for my best friend to invite me
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:57
Here you go. Here you go. So before we jump into the topic, I’ve got to do a proper introduction. Because I know if we don’t, we’re gonna be off and running. And that is true, but people will be like, wait, wait, who, right? Who’s her bio? What’s her bio?
Andi Veenker 2:12
Why do we care about her and what she has to say?
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:15
Oh, they’ll care. They’ll care. But let’s let’s do a proper introduction. So okay. So let’s see, there’s a lot, there’s a lot here. I’m gonna I’m gonna jump around so we can get going on the topic. So Dr. Anna Packard earned her Bachelor Science degree in psychology from Brigham Young University in 2003. And then she worked for two years at the Stanford treatment Research Center on a study exploring alternative treatments for depression during pregnancy. And then in grad school, she pursued specialized training in women’s issues with a specific emphasis in the treatment of eating disorders today, Oh, yay, love that. And then worked as an extern. At center for change,
Dr. Anna Packard 3:01
Which is where I met you
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:02
Yes, I was actually her supervisor there. So that was awesome. Which, you know, Center for Change is a highly regarded specialized eating disorder treatment center, here in Utah and was trained and supervised by clinicians with expertise of many years of experience. That means we were old! Dr. Packard earned her PhD in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University’s APA accredited program in 2010. And did a pre doctoral internship at BYU at their Counseling and Psychological Services. So she’s got lots of great expertise. And then after graduation, she continued work at center for change, where she provided intensive clinical services to individuals in inpatient and residential treatment for eating disorders. And you know, one of the things that Anna’s really well known for his group psychotherapy for eating concerns, she’s kind of a group guru.
Dr. Anna Packard 4:04
And yeah, I’m a group junkie
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:06
Yeah, she’s really passionate about it. And she’s really, really good at it. And so that was one of the things that she did a lot of at center for change and really developed group programming there. And then of course, since coming to balance, health and healing that’s, that’s something that she’s continuing here. Yeah. And she’s, she’s, she’s very gifted not only with group therapy, but also individuals. So in Fall 2012, she began working at BYU Counseling and Psychological Services, providing individual and group psychotherapy to BYU students, and continued her specialty with eating disorders and body image concerns and lots of supervision of graduate students. So she’s, she’s bringing up the next generation and she does a lot of presenting nationally, regionally. Eating concerns body image issues and doing group psychotherapy. So definitely doing a lot of work in that direction. And then she joined, she joined us at balance health and healing in 2016, as the group therapy coordinator, and has continued this emphasis here, and when she’s when she’s not in the chair, work at her magic, she’s hiking, spending time with her family, reading a good book and enjoying the outdoors or planning her next trip. So you know, just on a personal note, like Anna is, she just has a zest for life. And so, yeah, for sure, so everyone has a more enjoyable time when Anna’s around. And Anna’s really well known for, like asking deep, thought provoking questions. So whether in therapy, or whether out on the hiking trail, so when you’re, when you’re around, and you always you’re always thinking deeply about beings, which is, which is really great. So yeah, so I’m excited. excited to have you here. So anything you want to set straight, anything I got wrong, or you want to, you know, correct on the record.
Dr. Anna Packard 6:17
Ummmm, no that was a really flattering introduction. very thorough.
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:23
There you go. There you go. Okay. So let’s jump in and talk about body image to passion for both of us for sure. Yeah. So you know, body image, it’s such a big topic. And of course, you know, both of us have spent our clinical career studying and treating this issue. And, you know, we could talk about this all day. And in fact, yes, we really could we do spend, you know, a lot of our days talking about this, but for for our purpose today, with the podcast, I really wanted to focus our discussion on kind of three main points. And so first, understanding just how pervasive body image concerns are, and that these are not just the domain of women. Yeah, anymore, right. And some of the factors that that contribute to body image concerns. And then the second, the second area that I thought could be helpful, is you know, how body image concerns are showing up at work and in leadership, because of course, that’s what we really are focused on here. And then third, to build some awareness so that if you see or hear yourself in some of the things that we are discussing, you can have some direction. Yeah, appeal on that.
Dr. Anna Packard 7:39
Yeah. Where to start working on this.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:41
Exactly, exactly. So. So that’s kind of the goal for today. So first, let’s maybe kind of look at some of the stats on body image. And what do we know about body image concerns?
Dr. Anna Packard 7:57
Well, if you’re in a Western society, we know that this is a huge focus. It’s sort of we talked about, it’s in the kool aid that were raised on it. And and as you pointed out, it’s across genders. And it starts really, really young. So some of the statistics for young kids I think, highlights the pervasiveness and how detrimental this experience can be. So by age six, girls already start to express concerns about their weight and shape. In fact, 40 to 60% of elementary aged girls are concerned about becoming fat. That’s like so heartbreaking. It is. Yeah, so heartbreaking that they’re tuning in so early and young to messages that society is bleeding at them, right? So 80% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. So my daughter’s 10. Okay, and I’ve even like began to hear and right I’m like super body positive right house, but even she has made some comments. I’m aware that like, I can’t keep I can’t, like keep her in a little bubble, like, she’s picking up on these messages and these values assumes that society is pushing on her. And that’s, that’s so many! 80% of kids are afraid of being fat! In fact, I think that stat is also they’re more afraid of being fat than they are of nuclear war. Their parents dying of cancer. Yep. And probably something I forgot. There’s something else that was pretty striking.
Dr. Melissa Smith 7:58
Yeah. But the one that killed me on that is that they were more afraid of being fat than of their parents die. Yes. Yes. I mean, that gives you some, right, that just context about the weight stigma that’s so permissive in our society. Yeah. And then another one, you know, if we think about how pervasive it is, for young girls, you know, of course we know that that only gets more intense. As women a self we think about college age women, I think I think the stat is 95 to 97% of college age women are at some point on a diet is that it’s just the it’s just the norm, right to be dissatisfied with your body and to be actively trying to change your body.
Dr. Anna Packard 10:26
It’s not that much lower for women in general, right. 90% of women in a given year will go on a diet.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:32
Yeah, Which just seems so miserable.
Dr. Anna Packard 10:37
No one goes on a diet to stay on a diet because it’s miserable.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:41
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So then let’s let’s look at the impact of body image by gender. Because one of the things that we’ve seen, especially what I would say probably in the last 10 years is that this focus has, you know, it certainly has not gone away from women. But we see attention also being placed on right men we see definitely with advertising, you know, body washes, oh, this sort of thing a what are called landscaping or Santa Fe. Yeah, exactly. We have we have the rise of the metro section. Right. So let’s look at some of the body image concerns as they impact.
Dr. Anna Packard 11:27
Well, it’s interesting, even and it’s our last diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that came out that was one that was considered but didn’t get included, but was reverse anorexia was this and it’s all about men, that there we’re seeing an increase of men having this obsession with needing to be a certain size. So it’s reverse anorexia because right anorexia is its idea of thinness. Right. For men. It’s this idea of bulking up, and they can’t be buff enough. Yeah. And that can fall really easily into disordered territory. Yeah. and consume their lives.
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:00
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So yeah, so we have over one half of teenage girls, and nearly a third of teenage boys use some some form of unhealthy weight control behaviors, such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking, cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives. So that’s really startling to me that
Dr. Anna Packard 12:23
How similar the stats are…
Dr. Melissa Smith 12:25
Right, yeah, that that rise in boys. And then that this is a study from 2013. So even you know, several years ago, 95% of college aged men are dissatisfied with their bodies on some level. Yeah. So. So body image concerns are not the domain of just women. Right?
Dr. Anna Packard 12:48
It is sad. The trend is going in the wrong direction. Yes, it’s just becoming more gender inclusive. Yeah, exactly. Not. That’s not where we want to go. But that is where things are going. And it’s really easy to even just see this also at a young age like the Batman superhero. That looks like today compared to 20 years ago. vastly different. He has muscles where muscles don’t belong.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:12
I know. It used to be Michael Keaton. Yes. Michael Keaton was the was the old Batman. And actually last night, I watched The Dark Knight Rises with my children. It was not Michael Keaton.
Dr. Anna Packard 13:25
It wasn’t even who was it? I forget his name.
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:30
It was Christian Bale
Dr. Anna Packard 13:33
But even he like it’s the suit. It’s the suit that’s chiseled
Dr. Melissa Smith 13:37
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And that’s, you know, that’s actually one of the, you know, the hypotheses, or one of the things that we’re seeing with the increasing pressure on men is this what we call the superhero effect, right. So the chiseled abs, and the bulging biceps and the fitness craze in social media and the movie screen. We blame a lot of things on social media these days…
Dr. Anna Packard 14:02
But when the shoe fits….
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:04
…right, and the research on the impact of social media, and particularly on body image concerns, it’s starting to come out now. And it’s the shoe does fit, right like it’s not good, that especially those image heavy platforms like Instagram, really do take a big hit not only on women, but also men. But if if we if we look at this superhero effect. So for the last three years, at least four out of the top 10 grossing movies in the US have been superhero stories. And in these films, the ideal male physiques are shown constantly. So to be brave, dependable and honorable. You need big muscles. So that’s kind of the message and I’m like, Can we be done with those right
Dr. Anna Packard 14:57
Right! No, I don’t think they’re going anywhere.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:00
They make money
Dr. Anna Packard 15:01
So, right there I loved what you just said. They’re very clearly defining what it is to be a man just like as movies and media define what it is to be a woman. Yes. And it’s very hard. You have to consciously evaluate those messages. Otherwise, we’re we’re all just drinking the Kool Aid. Yeah. Right. It takes proactive awareness and change to pull away from that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:27
Yeah. And I think for for our purposes here, we want to think about how does that how does that bleed over? How does that translate into the world of work? Right, because we bring our whole selves to work. And those messages do not stop as we walk into our office, right? And they’re really pervasive messages. And so we we really kind of want to think about that and just pay attention to how those body image concerns show up for us right at work and how they might get in the way and and how some of those cultural messages, might add, right, some pressure as well
Dr. Anna Packard 16:11
Right I think there’s both internal adoption of those values and ideas of what makes me worthy. What makes me allowed to have a voice How do I define success? But there’s also places in which there’s overt pressure? Yep. Right. Like other messages might be over in the workplace, you might see people getting promoted, that look a certain way, are getting more attention and prestige. Yeah. And it’s easy to fill in the blank set, partly due to how they look.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:38
Yes. And there, there actually is a really good study out that physically attractive people do get promoted more often. Yes. And so we know that that bias exists for sure. So it is alive and well in the workplace. Right? So yeah, so let’s, let’s quickly define, defined body image. And then let’s move into how the body image concerns show up at work and in leadership. So I’ve, I’ve got, I’ve got a quick definition here of Guardian is just so we’re kind of all on the same page. And then you can clarify or, or, you know, change it as, as you will. So body image is defined as one’s thoughts, perceptions and attitudes about their physical appearance, right. So pretty, pretty basic definition. And we think about negative body image or body dissatisfaction, involving feelings of shame, anxiety and self consciousness about the body. So people who experience high levels of body dissatisfaction, feel their bodies are flawed in comparison to others, and they’re more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, isolation, low self esteem and eating disorders. So.
Dr. Anna Packard 18:00
Yeah, I like that. Because I think, well, I like that definition I don’t like it. Because I do think what you’re tapping into is, is when we think about how basic it is, it’s how we feel toward our bodies. But the cost, right when we don’t feel positively about our bodies that can take up so much energy and lead to some really detrimental consequences. Like no self esteem, depression, isolation, all of these things, Set us up to really struggle.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:31
Yeah. High cost in lots of different areas. Yes.
Dr. Anna Packard 18:35
I mean, at best, it’s an energy suck. Yes. Right. But at worst, it can be really damaging.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:41
Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. Okay, so now, yeah, let’s actually talk about, let’s let’s kind of move into that and focus on how the body image concerns show up at work, and in leadership. So let’s talk a little bit about socialization. Yes. And, you know, we kind of think about socialization for women and for men. So do you want to talk a little bit about that? Or shall I?
Dr. Anna Packard 19:11
Well, we both can. You know, it’s really interesting to see how girls and boys are socialized, different still. And those of us who are adults, we’ve been through the socialization process that are still being socialized. Yeah, right, that we as women are taught overtly and covertly that how we look matters, that is how we get attention. That is how our voices are heard. That’s actually how our voice is spoken is through what we look like. It is how we as you just said, how we get promoted. We and we are also not supposed to be loud, right? We’re supposed to basically sit quietly look pretty, be competent, but don’t make don’t ruffle feathers.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:57
Yeah, you know, sit still and look pretty good. Hi.
Dr. Anna Packard 20:01
Yes be kind be nurturing Don’t be abrasive. Exactly.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:05
Yep. While boys, right, and men are socialized for strength, yes, strength and power, right, we think about the Batman, right? And really the message is speak up and assert yourself. And of course, we see this show up in so many ways, not only in the educational system, but, you know, we think about how the how the boardroom really is not a far walk from the classroom. And and so the insidious ways that body image issues show up for men and women’s work. Yeah. Right. And, and one one way, especially for women is that if if they’re not careful, these body image issues will keep a lot of women silent at work.
Dr. Anna Packard 20:59
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:00
Which like, makes me so sad.
Dr. Anna Packard 21:02
No, absolutely. Absolutely. I think it does keep women silent at work. And I do. I also feel like Tell me if you think I’m off. But I’ve read a bit about this, too. But if you’re in a larger body, the way in which you find your power is to be funny. Yeah. Right. And I think that’s for men and for women. Yeah. Right. If you don’t fit the mold, you have to find another way in. Yeah. And that’s through humor, like I’m going to be able to be seen because I’m funny.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:24
Yes. And so yeah. Right. Like you fall into some of these. Maybe stereotypes are what’s socially prescribed, rather than rather than having your unique voice, yeah, at at the table. So that Yeah, that’s a really big one. And then we also kind of think about what are what’s the unique culture of the organization as well? And how might that add more pressure to some of this socialization right piece, as well. And so then let’s, let’s next talk about kind of the expansion of roles, especially for, for women, I think this also comes up for men as well, but the pressure that comes with that. So this is kind of a double, double edged sword, because every time I talk about this issue, I want to say it’s not that I want less roles for myself as a woman. But when we think about the expansion of roles for women, what’s happened is, it’s just more pressure for women to be and do it all. So let’s talk about that one.
Dr. Anna Packard 22:40
Bcause we do it all perfectly,
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:42
Perfectly. Yeah. Yeah, that’s implied, right. But let’s talk about that one. So it’s not, you know, it’s not enough to have a certain degree or a certain career, but you also have to be the perfect mom, and you have to be involved in the PTA and you have to be the loving wife. And it’s, you know, we have just added more to our plate. And you have to have a great yoga body.
Dr. Anna Packard 23:16
And to be very zen, really present and oriented in your life and kind and giving to your neighbors and host book clubs.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:28
Just get dried out.
Dr. Anna Packard 23:29
No, it was interesting. I literally just had a talk with my husband this last week, because, right some of being a having a career and being a mom. I literally can’t do it all. I can’t be there for all of it. And I missed one of my kids soccer games. Yeah. And my husband did too. Alright, so know what neither of us were there. And I was like, do you feel bad about that? And he’s like, no. But I like have all this mommy guilt, right? Like, I’m supposed to always be there for them And also kick ass at my career. And you know, it’s just
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:04
Okay, and then this is, this is, this could be a totally different podcast, so I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna throw this bomb and then we’re going to walk away from it. Okay. None of the other dads would like no one is going to say a darn word that your husband missed that soccer game.
Dr. Anna Packard 24:24
That is so true.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:25
But how many moms are getting notice that you miss this game? Yes. And I think that’s I mean, that’s where we as women are our own worst enemies. Yes. We’re so hard on one another
Dr. Anna Packard 24:40
Yes. We’re not just judgmental of ourselves. We’re evaluating and judging each other. Yeah, we’re still holding each other to the standard of Yeah, you’re supposed to do it all
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:49
You are, right. Yeah. We’ll put a bookmark in that one, because that’s a whole that’s a whole different And topic, but But yeah, so this pressure to exceed expectations in all areas of their life and I think, yeah, like you, like you said before, it’s just an energy drain, right? Like you’ve got energy going to all of these different sources. And if you’re not careful, you get caught in impression management. Yes. And that’s a big one. Right? really big one it is. That’s, that is a giant energy drain.
Dr. Anna Packard 25:30
Yep. I think that leads really nicely to this next point. That you want to talk about.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:38
Yeah, around around self worth. So one of the things that I’ve done in my clinical work is I’ve always framed body image concerns as self worth concerns, because I mean, everyone wants to talk about how can I feel better about my body? And I’m like, actually, let’s just work on feeling better about yourself. Yeah, you know, like they are not separate. And so this idea that self worth concerns are really big, messy questions that are so challenging to answer. Because, honestly, how do you begin to answer the question, am I good enough? Right, that it’s such a big? I mean, it’s a huge existential question. But you can definitely answer the question, am I thin enough? And we live in a society that is obsessed with a thin ideal, and we are bombarded with messages that tell us if we are thin enough, that Oh, that tell us that if we are thin enough, then we are good enough? Yes. And so though answering the worst question is really difficult. We have lots and lots of ways to answer that than enough questions. So we can weigh ourselves. We can pinch ourselves, we can try on clothes obsessively. We can compare ourselves to everyone we come into contact with. And of course, we can feel absolutely miserable about ourselves. Which, by the way, guarantees we will never ever feel good enough.
Dr. Anna Packard 27:12
Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s such an important point. Because everyone who’s drinking the Kool Aid buys into the idea that change is the answer.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:20
Yeah, right. Changing your body.
Dr. Anna Packard 27:22
Yes, changing your body is the answer. And I will feel good enough. And here’s, here’s what I think about. People do experience if they lose weight and fit more closely to a standard ideal that society dictates is ideal. They do feel an initial boost in self esteem. But the research is really clear that that doesn’t last
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:41
Yes, and very short lived
Dr. Anna Packard 27:42
Very short. And, and it makes sense as to why anytime we put our self worth on an external measure, that’s not true self worth, right. And, and I think too, okay, at best, let’s pretend you have an increase in self esteem and feelings of self worth, but losing weight, you then create a prison for yourself, because your body can never change from this point. Right. And so a lot of people are then living with fear, like, I can’t gain any weight. And and you your life becomes about I have to maintain this weight. And so at best, you’re not living your life.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:15
Yep. Right. So you’ve just added some anxiety and sadness, right? fear based, right?
Dr. Anna Packard 28:21
Which also can be reinforced, right, like people notice you lost weight and really reinforced you for it and you feel more attention. But right, then you are held prisoner. Yeah. To that experience, and you don’t have any flexibility to grow and expand. Yeah, literally. And like figurative Yeah. Right. So but also, right, the research is really clear. It doesn’t last.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:44
Yeah. So anytime you house your self worth into your appearance? It is a losing game. Yes. Every single time. Despite whatever message you hear. And you will hear lots of messages
Dr. Anna Packard 29:06
And you will be sitting there wondering. And this is where our clinical work comes in. Right? Because then people are like, okay, maybe I didn’t lose enough weight. Right. Or maybe I should lose a little more. Maybe Actually, I need to go the plastic surgery route.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:18
Right? Like, or I just need to get toned?
Dr. Anna Packard 29:20
Yes, yes. That’s my favorite one
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:23
Like actually to get toned. You need to add some more weight. Because muscle is a function of weight, right
Dr. Anna Packard 29:30
We can work with that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:35
Let’s help you eat more. Okay, so you have a great quote related to that..
Dr. Anna Packard 29:43
Oh, yeah. But what I was also gonna say too, is when we focus our bite, you’re not even doing the real work. Right? That self worth is really as as you started out, like it’s a vulnerable Yeah, that is huge life work. Right there. Yep. And we can derail it by putting our body. So this is just a quote I love. It’s by Shefali Tsabary. So she wrote The Conscious Parent and The Awakened Family.
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:11
Oh, good. She’s awesome!
Dr. Anna Packard 30:13
So yeah she’s not even really talking about body image, but this quote was just think is gold. She says, “when we have a solid sense of self, no self image is required. We don’t think about ourselves at all, because we are totally engaged in being ourselves.”
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:28
Isn’t that perfect?
Dr. Anna Packard 30:29
And that’s exactly the freedom that comes with body acceptance
Dr. Melissa Smith 30:33
Yeah, absolutely. Well, and and at the end of the day, self worth, it’s an inside job. Right. And I think what, you know, when we’re hustling around the body image stuff, like we’re treating self worth as an outside job, and you’ll end up spending lots and lots of money, and paying a higher cost and plastic surgery and all sorts of all sorts of obnoxiousness, and you will feel worse and worse, because it’s this elusive goal that you had all along within you, right, if you would be willing to do that work. So okay, so now let’s let’s talk about, let’s talk about one of the other costs, or one of the other ways that this shows the body image concerns shows up at work. And I think I actually think this is a really important one that sometimes we we don’t pay attention to as much, but it is the ability to concentrate. And I want to just talk about a study here. And when I came across this study, I was like, so flabbergasted. So it came out of University of Michigan, yay, Michigan. Did my internship I love University of Michigan. So this was a study of college students. I remember when we, I can’t remember if I was talking to you about this or talking to someone else. But I was like, Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe they actually did this study. But it’s kind of hilarious, but also kind of stunning. So this was a study on self objectification. So about body image and body shame. And then also concentration, and restrained eating. So it kind of looked at three key things. And they actually did two studies. So the first study was of 72 women. And then they went back and did the study with men and women. So they did like 42 women and then 40 men. And what they did was they they, they kind of had two conditions. So they had the the men and women we’ll just talk about the second study, but they had the men and women take a math test. And the first time they took the test, they just had them take a test, take the test wearing a sweater, and then they you know, comfy cozy, comfy cozy, they scored their they scored their test, and you know, went on their way. And then the second condition was they had the men and the women put on a swimsuit, and then take the test. Nightmare! I think I’ve had that nightmare before. And so and then they, you know, took the test. And what they found is I’m just gonna talk about the results from the second study that the they found the effects on body shame, and restrained eating were and concentration were significant for the women only. So wasn’t significant for the men. They were kind of like ah, swimsuit but think about what a swimsuit is for right?
Dr. Anna Packard 34:15
And why it would have been different if they were wearing speedos.
Dr. Melissa Smith 34:17
Yeah, I think it was just trial. Yes, yes, Speedo might have might have increased that a little bit. But for women, right, that increased their body shame. It then predicted restrained eating and have to diet and impacted their attention. Right. So they did much worse on the math test. After that, yeah. And so I think it really shows the impact that body image concerns have potentially on your ability to concentrate and focus and like, get shizzle done. Which is what we care about right being productive and and moving forward. On goals and adding value, and in a very real way, body image concerns can be incredibly undermining.
Dr. Anna Packard 35:09
Well, and, and along with that, right, if it’s making you so self conscious inability to concentrate, you’re not going to perform as well. Right? You’re also not going to feel the confidence to speak up. And to insert yourself where where your voice is really needed.
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:23
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. You will not, you will not make yourself heard for sure. Yeah. So I, I just think whoooo that’s, that’s. That’s motivation right there. Right? body image issues make you dumb? Oh.
Dr. Anna Packard 35:42
Can we make a bumper sticker?
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:44
yeah, you don’t want to be dumb. Love your body. There’s something to watch, watch for bumper stickers coming your way. Okay, so before you lose hope, all is not lost. So we wanted, we definitely want to, you know, build some awareness. And first of all, recognize that, you know, you probably do here, you know, some things that might sound familiar, because if you’re like, most individuals, you probably have some body image concern right now. Right? It’s so very, very common. And what we want you to, to see is, first of all, have some awareness about that, and the ways that they might be these concerns might be showing up for you, and certainly help you see that you’re not alone, we want you to see that there are some costs to not addressing these concerns. But also, and definitely, most importantly, we want you to see that there are some good steps you can take to address the body image issues. You know, spoiler alert, we’ve kind of talked about this already. These steps have nothing to do with changing your body. Yeah, so we’re definitely not be we will not be talking to you about the latest diet. So you can you can thank us later for that. Yeah, we think that’s a public survey. But we do want to give you some great solutions that actually will help and that are supported by the research and the you know, get to that question of worth, and helping you to actually do the work of making peace with with your body. So let’s so we’ve got I think we’ve got like five solutions. So let’s start with solution one, do you want to start with solution one?
Dr. Anna Packard 37:46
Well, we already talked about solution one, but just to recap, because it is such an important step, you have to get off the bandwagon that change is how you’re gonna feel better, about your body. So you have to stop drinking the Kool Aid. And you have to actively become an informed consumer of these messages and not buy into them and your awareness. Right. I love that framework of body image is actually a self worth question. Yep. And lasting self worth will never come through changing your appearance or placing your worth on your appearance.
Dr. Melissa Smith 38:21
Yep, absolutely, absolutely. Right, that the diet culture, it’s I think the number is 60,000,000,000 apps and growing $65 billion industry so they’ve got a really loud megaphone. Yep. telling you that all you need is the latest. The latest diet and I’m telling you, it’s it’s wrong. So that the the message of the diet culture is really one about control that you can’t trust your body. And the truth is like learning to trust, learning to trust yourself learning to trust your body is the work.
Dr. Melissa Smith 39:07
Yeah the body is wise, much more than we all give it credit for.
Dr. Melissa Smith 39:14
Yeah, exactly. And so that diet culture really leads people down a rabbit hole of obsession with food and rules that really, you know, take you away from that trust and so you know.
Dr. Anna Packard 39:29
And also take away your ability to concentrate at work because you’re obsessing about food
Dr. Melissa Smith 39:34
Aand set you up for rebound. Yes, rebound, weight gain, which what the research indicates is people 95% of dieters regain weight but then they regained 10% and another 10%. So you know, we know diets work in the short term, but ultimately they don’t, they fail.
Dr. Anna Packard 39:56
They fail, and they really fail with that weight gain.
Dr. Melissa Smith 40:00
Yeah, fail magnificently. So okay, so now let’s talk about solution two, make peace with your body. So we are fond of saying you do not have to love your body.
Dr. Anna Packard 40:13
For some people that can feel so far away. Yeah. Especially if you’re in an active place of hating your body, to transition to loving that just people like I don’t even want to step into that. That just feels enormous and huge. And I can’t tell ya, so right, making it more realistic of you don’t you don’t actually have to love your body to have peace with your body.
Dr. Melissa Smith 40:30
Yeah, exactly. So I always kind of think about, can you at least lay down the weapons of war? And so, you know, thinking about, like, What does peace with your body look like? And so, you know, just a couple of things maybe to think about? Can you stop assaulting?
Dr. Anna Packard 40:45
Dr. Melissa Smith 40:46
You know, whether in the form of unbalanced exercise, pushing past limits related to food drink,
Dr. Anna Packard 40:53
Or even just the thoughts that we’re chronically throwing at ourselves. Yeah, criticisms about our bodies. Yes. either verbally out loud, like girls are famous for just getting together and like complaining about their body, but also internally your dialogue? Yes, like, yeah, lay down those weapons.
Dr. Melissa Smith 41:09
Yes. So dispatch an ambassador, right? Try a kind word towards your body. And it may definitely sound foreign on your tongue. That’s okay. But you know, Give it, give it a try. And, you know, this is something that, you know, Anna and I definitely talk about a lot in our clinical work. But can you identify something about your body that you appreciate, you know, and so really shifting away from this idea, and this focus on appearance and really shift towards and appreciation for the function right of your body from Yeah, form to function. And so a function that it performs for you your body’s resilience, your body as an instrument. And then, you know, start listening to your body. So for many of us with a history of body image concerns, we spend so much of our time and energy trying to control our bodies, which means you know, we’re really lousy at listening to the needs of our body. And so making peace with your body includes learning to listen to your body, so you got to get quiet. Yeah. So what do you need? What food will fuel you, you know, learning to figure out when you are full? Which, honestly, like for a lot of people that is such a foreign concept.
Dr. Anna Packard 42:27
Yes. Well, and I think it’s just really scary. Because it honestly is something you tune into on a case by case basis, right? Because one day full looks different for me then the next day, right? And so many variables influence that and your ability to trust that flexibility. Yeah, can feel so scary.
Dr. Melissa Smith 42:46
Yeah. Especially if you’re a chronic dieter
Dr. Anna Packard 42:48
But also right, It’s not just what what do you need? What what fuels you part of peace with your body is honoring that your body deserves fun food too? Yeah, right that I eat chocolate every day. It’s a moral imperative Ihave.
Dr. Melissa Smith 43:03
She’s religious about it
Dr. Anna Packard 43:04
I am like, my body deserves chocolate.
Dr. Melissa Smith 43:08
She’ll call me I’m like, What are you doing? I’m eating chocolate. There you go.
Dr. Anna Packard 43:14
And we’re better for it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 43:15
Yes, we are better when Anna eats chocolate.
Dr. Anna Packard 43:18
Everyone benefits when I have my chocolate,
Dr. Melissa Smith 43:24
Definitely. So you know, we won’t get into it here. But an intuitive eating approach.
Dr. Anna Packard 43:32
I think we should include a link for that. If anyone really wants to step into that. There’s some amazing resources out there. Yes, we will definitely like a Bible on it that we can put a link.
Dr. Melissa Smith 43:42
Yeah, we’ll definitely include that. So but yeah, intuitive eating. So flexibility. Yes. with food, learning to tune in to your hunger fullness, all that good stuff. So, okay, do you want to talk to us about solution two
Dr. Anna Packard 43:57
Yeah, so solution two is try compassion instead of comparison. This is so valuable. I what I want to say too, is so often we’re comparing and we may not even be consciously aware that we are it’s like such a default it is such a default mode. And so honestly, we’re actually really wired to do so. I think this comes from our biological underpinnings of belonging and that need for belonging and so we’re always evaluating how do I fit in do I not fit in? So it’s just a natural reflex for us to have which takes conscious choice to stop doing so. So first of all that awareness right of how often you are comparing and to catch yourself and and engage some coping strategies that can redirect you so you know, we talked about it’s not enough to eliminate a thought because then you have this vacant hole and congratulations, that other thought is just gonna come right back in.
Dr. Melissa Smith 44:54
Right yeah. And it does not it so doesn’t work.
Dr. Anna Packard 44:57
No, you have to redirect you have to teach your brain new skills. So I love, you know, some some mantras like coming up with a mantra that’s meaningful for you. Um, so one of my favorite mantras is, that’s not where I want to spend my energy. I love that one. I like I use it all the time for a variety of ways. But this is a really helpful one, if I’m comparing. That’s not how I want to spend my energy. It’s not gonna serve me.
Dr. Melissa Smith 45:23
One I use is, that’s not how I want to relate to this person.
Dr. Anna Packard 45:27
Yeah, true, that’s right. Because it’s true comparison decreases the humanity. And the connection. Yeah, for sure. So that’s a really great mantra reconnects you to your value of i want to connect with this person
Dr. Melissa Smith 45:39
Dr. Anna Packard 45:41
Or some other examples you have, or I’m learning to be gentle with myself. I’m learning that I’m good enough. And so the key here, though, that I talk a lot with clients about is you have to find one that feels meaningful to you. Right, right. Because if it’s just a statement that like, I’m good enough, and Gosh, darn it, people like me.
Dr. Melissa Smith 46:01
That’s for all you Stuart Smalley fans…
Dr. Anna Packard 46:04
That’s not going to land. And that’s not going to be helpful. So finding one. So hopefully one of these examples maybe spurred you to think about ones that might work for you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 46:14
Yeah, exactly. So on a recent podcast, I had a freebie on freeing yourself from comparison on social media. And so we’ll have a link to that as well. So you can get your hands on that I, I, one of my friends is a professor in the School of family life at BYU, and she teaches a class on the media. And so yeah, so she used it in her lecture. And she’s like, Can I include this with my class? Because she’s like, these are really good practical tips on like, You betcha. So. So yeah, hopefully you can find it useful.
Dr. Anna Packard 46:51
And I like that too. Because right, that is an overt behavior that just lends itself to comparison.
Dr. Melissa Smith 46:56
Dr. Anna Packard 46:58
Yeah, it’s an easy thing and easy solution to step away from
Dr. Melissa Smith 47:02
Exactly right. I really like that. Yeah. So and that takes us right into solution three, which is consider taking a social media fast, because comparison really is so much easier on social media, and it is a superhighway to feeling miserable about yourself. And it’s Yeah, it’s just it’s so easy. And so like I said, I just tackled this issue. And so we’ll link to that podcast. And so you can take a look at that. But in a nutshell, really, the key is to spend less time on social media and really check in with yourself. And if you’re not in a good headspace, yeah, back away from the phone. Like it’s just, it’s just not in your best interest. And be wary of platforms that are image heavy, Instagram are talking to you. Like, I love Instagram, but like, it can be a really bad breeding ground for body image concerns. And so, you know, be careful about who you’re following. That, that sort of thing. And so there are some days where social media use is just going to be hazardous for your health. And so you’ve got to be wise enough to know when right when you’ve got to, you know, put that phone down and back away?
Dr. Anna Packard 48:16
Yes, so great. Um, so our next solution is, which is lens perfectly from what you’re just saying, this self awareness, tuning into what your needs are in the moment. So we talk a lot about a psychologist about mindfulness. So mindfulness is the skill and ability to observe your thoughts and witness them as that instead of buying into them as truth tellers or reality. So when, with particular attention to body image, the first step is obviously knowing that ruminative thoughts about your body are not helpful. And they take you away from being present and engaged. So a thought when you have those experiences, being able to overtly say to yourself, that’s a thought, yeah, that’s not a truth teller. observe them and let them go. And again, you could go back to using those mantras to redirect yourself. But I think there’s a lot of power in just disengaging from those storylines.
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:30
It’s, it’s so I mean, it’s that’s such a simple, but powerful truth to recognize my thoughts are not reality. Yes.
Dr. Anna Packard 49:40
Yes! Right. But they’re so creative. They’re so good at what they do.
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:45
And they’re so convincing
Dr. Anna Packard 49:48
And they vastly distort reality
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:50
Yeah, and they’re obnoxious liars. Yeah, so be aware. Yeah. Be wary. Yeah. Okay. So So, our last solution solution five for you. I mean, we’ve got so many more but for talk about this all day, yeah, solution five, some proactive behaviors. One way to introduce more adaptive body image is to behave as if you like your body. And this is this is something we talk about a lot with clients act as though so you’ve got things video of islanded. Yeah. So what would you do differently? If you liked your body yet? and start doing that now?
Dr. Anna Packard 50:32
Yeah and really do it both in terms of how you treat and relate to your body? Like, does it? Do you need to rest more? Do you need to move your body more? You know, do you? Are you opting out of fun activities? Because you’re worried about your body, like swimming with friends or hiking? What would change? But also, is there anything you’d be doing differently in your life? If the energy you spend on body image concerns were redirected elsewhere and more in line with your values? What would look different? Yeah. Or would you be spending your time and energy and start doing that?
Dr. Melissa Smith 51:03
Yes, I love that. And I think I mean, I just think like a simple example of that, that, you know, for instance, okay, like, I’m not going to go swimming, because I’m self conscious. And I don’t want to be seen in a swimsuit. But if, right, like, if I felt good in my body, like I really love to go swimming. Okay, I’m going to, I’m going to go swimming. And then you think about getting in the pool, and actually, like, feeling empowered in your body? And how, how actually acting as though Yeah, can help to shift the way you relate to your body. And so I really think that this solution can be really powerful. And it’s kind of like a domino effect.
Dr. Anna Packard 51:49
Absolutely. I love that, this is something I talk about a lot with clients is you will never get to peace, when to your body when you’re not treating her as if she’s worthy. When you’re actively restricting when you’re harming her psychologically or physically. You’ll never feel peace with her because she is very clearly getting messages. I’m not good enough. Yeah. Right. is you’re telling yourself, yeah, the opposite is true, right? If we treat our bodies as if they’re worthy. It opens up the possibility that we believe it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 52:16
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think just just the only thing I would add to that is trust is a two way street. Yeah. Right. Like, we spend all this time and energy saying, like, I can’t trust my body, like, I can’t feed it. Because like, what if I gained all this weight? It’s like, you know, your body’s waiting to see if you’re trustworthy. And so let’s, let’s, let’s work with what we know. Because we’ve got lots of research, actually, on nutritional science. Yes. And I always just try and remind people like trust is actually a two way street. And like, you’re just playing chicken here. So someone’s got, yes. Someone’s gotta be willing, God wants gotta be willing. And so yeah, so it’s always it’s always so cool. When people start that trust process with their body. It’s pretty remarkable
Dr. Anna Packard 53:10
Our bodies are so amazing, they’re so wise. And so resilient. They are worthy.
Dr. Melissa Smith 53:17
Yes, exactly. So and, and I think the other thing like we’re, you know, our bodies are not cut off from from, from ourselves. No, you know, like, we bring our whole selves to work. And, and so to, you know, we’re talking about body image concerns, and yet it’s average thing. Yeah, right. It’s all about us. Yeah. It’s our sense of self. It’s our ability to communicate, it’s our ability to ask for what we are. Yeah, yeah. And so recognizing that our, our willingness and our ability to do this work will really help us to be courageous and do the work we need to do in other areas. And that is all it’s all related. Yeah, it’s all related. Yes. So good. It’s good stuff. So thank you so much for being with me today. Thanks for hanging out. Oh, it’s great. It’s great. Okay, so thank you so much for joining us, make sure you head on over to my website, to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-25 one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-25. So remember, we’ve got a great social media comparisons freebie there. We’ve also got the link to the self care podcast. I’ll also have a link to Dr. Kristin Neff’s website on self compassion. There’s some really great stuff there. And, oh, I also want to link to the body reading defined Instagram account by Lexie beauty redefined oh sorry beauty redefined. Yeah not bad redefined.
Dr. Anna Packard 55:07
Well that works. That works.
Dr. Melissa Smith 55:09
Yeah, yeah, it’s doctors Lindsay and Lexi Kite. They’ve done some really great work on body image and then we’ll also link to intuitive eating so if you want more information on that, so make sure you check out the show notes at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-25 I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
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