I was browsing through Barnes & Noble magazine ailes, casually enjoying the variety of topics, pictures, and illustrations on display when I came across the food and health section of the display. I couldn't help but roll my eyes and grow firey with frustration reading the messages that were propagandized, such as,
THE BEST FLAT BELLY FOODS
BURN FAT, LOOK GREAT, & NEVER FEEL HUNGRY
JIGGLY FAT DISSOLVES
Media and advertising play a huge yet often unrecognized role in how we shape our beliefs and values. The American writer and advocate Jean Kilbourne, who is known for her research in advertising and its connection to major problems in society such as addiction and mental health disorders, shares that...
“We are each exposed to over 3000 ads a day. Yet, remarkably, most of us believe we are not influenced by advertising. Ads sell a great deal more than products. They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They tell us who we are and who we should be. Sometimes they sell addictions.” - Jean Kilbourne
A critical part of your wellness journey will be to develop discernment because, unfortunately, there are a lot of wolves in sheep's clothing in the health and wellness industry.
If we do not challenge the dominant messages, they may lead us to unconsciously adopt self-limiting and self-deprecating beliefs that become some of our GREATEST hurdles to actualizing our health and wellness goals.
For example, if we believe that hunger is the enemy of health and well-being, as some of these ads suggest, we would spend many parts of our day falling into fear, frustration, and shame cycles. If instead we recognize that hunger is a naturally occuring and healthy cue that our beautifully designed human regulation system gives us then we will welcome the experience as a guide to peace, relaxation, and fulfillment.
Developing discernment is a radical act of self-care.
So how does one take the steps towards becoming more discerning? I propose these five simple steps that can support this process. Next time you notice yourself criticizing your body or shaming yourself for not doing xyz, take these steps...
Despite what those ads may have you think, you are worthy, loved, and enough just as you are in this moment. I wish you well as you practice the art of discernment as a self-care practice.