In This Body – Episode #6: The Pressure of Comparison on Appearance with Nadia Craddock, PhD

Hosted by Ashley Bullock, In This Body is a podcast that serves as a wake-up call for greater representation and celebration of body diversity. In each episode, Ashley and her guest speakers shine a light on social inequities, discuss how to address the underlying “isms”, like racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, capitalism and discuss what we can do to radically reform them. In this episode, Ashley’s guest is Nadia Craddock.

Nadia Craddock is a body image researcher for the Centre for Appearance Research. She also co-hosts two podcasts: Appearance Matters: The Podcast! and The Body Protest podcast. Nadia has recovered from an eating disorder herself and is interested in reducing the harm of societal appearance pressures and amplifying eating disorder prevention.

In this show, Nadia talks about:

  • Her experience as a biracial child and how growing up in a predominantly white environment impacted her
  • Ways we feel shame about our bodies, the role capitalism plays and why shame is easier to internalize than feelings of pride
  • What research on body image and social media reveals
  • How being in nature can benefit mental health and body image and the research supporting this view

Podcast Transcript


Hello, and welcome to in this body show that serves as a wake up call for greater representation and celebration of body diversity. I’m your host, Ashley Bullock. And together we’re shining light on social inequities and discovering how to address the underlying isms like racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, capitalism, and what we can do to radically reform them. Hello, and welcome to in this body. In the show today I’m speaking with Nadia cratic. Nadia is a body image researcher for the Center for appearance research. She also co-host two podcasts, appearance matters, the podcast, and the body protest podcast. Nadia has recovered from an eating disorder herself and is interested in reducing the harm of societal appearance pressures and amplifying eating disorder prevention. In the show, Nadia talks about her experience as a biracial child, and how growing up in a predominantly white environment impacted her. She also discusses ways we feel shame about our bodies, the role capitalism plays, and why shame is easier to internalize than feelings of pride. What research on body image and social media showing and how being in nature can be fun, and how being in nature can be for mental health and body image and explains the research supports this. Let’s dive into the interview. It’s going to be a good one.

I’m so happy to have you here. All of your work and your experience and everything that you’re doing aligns so perfectly with the in this body podcast, and we’re so excited to have you.

Nadia: Well, thank you so much for having me.

Ashley: So, let’s get started. First and foremost, can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

Nadia: I am a body image researcher. I work at the Center for Appearance Research, which is based at the University of West of England in Bristol. You might tell from my accent I live in the UK.

Ashley: I definitely can tell.

Nadia: And I’ve been working there for five years now. It’s a huge team that’s 30 plus of us, so there’s lots of work going on within the center. But I work specifically on a team on a smaller team that’s funded by the self-esteem project, which is led by Professor Philippa Derricks. And we work on a number of different projects, working on body image interventions on evaluating those. So, my background is in psychology, and what I’m specifically working on this year is developing a school-based intervention in Indonesia. So, we’re working in partnership with UNICEF over there. And we’re developing the school-based intervention. It’s a single session for 12 to 15 year-olds, and then the work that we do once we’ve developed it, it’s then to evaluate it. So, it’s really important to us to make sure that our programs work. Are they effective? Do they actually go on to improve body image and related outcomes? As well as how acceptable is it? How feasible would it be for teachers to run a program like this? And is it culturally appropriate, age appropriate, so we look at that as well. That’s what I’m working on specifically. But, there’s loads of really exciting work that the center does related to body image, body image interventions. Even thinking of prevention, there’s some really cool like tech stuff that happens, people developing apps and chatbots and all kinds of things. So, it’s a really exciting and dynamic place to work.

Ashley: That’s so awesome. How did you get into this work? Or what made you want to dive into this?

Nadia: I really like that prevention aspect. And I think what’s exciting to me about body image work is that body image – how we think and feel about the way we look – is malleable, right? So, we can have these interventions and you can create change and that really excites me that you can do something and you can stop people on a path to destruction in many ways. I think that’s what’s really exciting to me. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Ashley: Yeah. Now I didn’t even know it was a thing until I came across your name and your profile. I was also very excited to know that there’s a team of people that have taken interest in that and are doing that. So, thank you. So, what is your take on labels? And how would you describe yourself?

Nadia: I identify as a woman, and I’m biracial. My mom is Indian, but grew up in Malaysia and my dad’s white, British. I identify as a researcher. That’s my work. I’m straight, cisgender. Yeah.

Ashley: Okay. And what’s your take on labels? Like, how do you feel about them? Does it make you feel?

Nadia: It’s a good question. I’ve never been asked it before, which highlights to me that it’s a point of privilege that I occupy that, you know, most of the labels and spaces I occupy are privileged positions.

I don’t know, I think there are aspects where having a label can be helpful in terms of finding your community. I think that can be helpful in understanding yourself as well. Sometimes I think it can be helpful. I think there’s opportunity for labels to be unhelpful in terms of stereotypes and associations with particular labels or groups. I think that’s something to unpack, but I think I’m quite comfortable in the labels I own, I suppose.

Ashley: Okay, thank you. And what messages did you receive about your body and identity early on? What are some of your first memories?

Nadia: In terms of body size, I was very small. So, I got a lot of praise for that, given the society that we live in. I think I remember that all quite strongly. I think that being mixed race, especially at the time, I was a child and growing up was interesting. And in Britain, I had my grandmother on my dad’s father side, who I saw a lot more because she lived in the UK. My mom’s mom lived in Malaysia. So, I just didn’t see her very often. But my dad’s mother was white and had that long blonde hair. And I just, you know, remember, nothing was ever said, but I remember a thought of “I want straight hair and blonde hair.” I remember kind of wanting and aspiring to that, I suppose, when I was very young. But I, I don’t think anything was said to me ever about that. But I kind of remember that. And then I think, I was maybe a bit of a tomboy. So, I think sometimes, you know, there’s elements of that. But it wasn’t until I was really a teenager, or a bit older that I remember things more overtly being said about my body, or what I looked like, on my identity, that were things that would stop me or would have maybe more of an impact. I think that as a child, I had a very nice upbringing and childhood. I can’t really remember anything particularly impactful. Apart from, I think, it’s interesting to think of the praise that you get for being small. And actually, although it sounds nice, and I liked it at the time, what was the lasting impact of that? And then if you continue being rewarded about something, and then your body changes or it’s a point of capital and privilege, you want to hold on to that. So, I think that had an impact on me for sure.

Ashley: And what about your relationship to food or any messages about food that you can think of?

Nadia: As a child, I was picky. I was difficult. I was a very compliant child. I did what I was told, but food was, you could argue, my battleground. I could be like, “No, I’m not eating that. No, absolutely not. I want this, I want that.” It was a way where I could express my particularities and kind of get away with it, I suppose. So, there’s elements of that and I think it’s interesting again to reflect on because I think it’s different now. But at that time, in the UK, being Asian was not cool. Asian food was not cool. But there was a very big chasm between liking Indian food and liking things like yoga and then how the Asian community in Britain are treated. I was conscious of that, especially as a child, and it wasn’t that I disliked the food myself, but I was quite protective of that. When my friends would come around, I wanted us to have fish fingers. Which is very interesting. As I’ve got older, it’s completely different now. My friends love my mom’s cooking. But as a child, that was something that I was self-conscious of. I went to very white schools.

Ashley: Okay, thank you for that. I know, I read in your, in your bio that you said you feel most like you’re thriving or most at home, when you’re in diverse spaces. I thought that was really beautiful. Why is that?

Nadia: I’ve reflected on this a lot in different ways over the years, and I think I have been used to being one of the few people of color in the spaces that I’ve been in. So, at school, and especially at school, because in secondary school, we were tiered by ability. So, if you were in a certain set, if you’re on the top, your class would look different. If you’re on the bottom set, there was there’s aspects of that. But, I’ve been used to being in very predominately white spaces, and the pressure that comes with that. The idea of having to be exceptional, I think this comes up a lot, but that idea of working twice as hard for half as much, I do relate to that. I do feel it. And I think it’s interesting to see how I fit in the world in that environment.

You asked about identity and labels and things and I think saying that thing about occupying lots of point of privilege, I’ve got lots of privilege cards I can pull out of my pocket, which makes me a very palatable brown person. So, I’m easy if someone needs the brown person or personal of color on a panel. I’m a good go-to for people because I’m very easy, and also kind of fit a mold of what people are used to, in those kinds of environment. So, sometimes it just feels taxing, maybe it’s an extra strain. Sometimes being the only person in an environment. It’s not to say that I didn’t like my friends at school, it’s not that anyone’s been particularly mean or nasty to me or anything like that. It’s just that awareness and that self-consciousness and then having to perform and show up in certain ways. And then when you are put forward and then questioning all of that. Why was I on the school brochure? Why am I picked for the panels? It can breed an insecurity that I have felt and still try to navigate. Public speaking engagements are a really good example of this, because I do get asked a lot to do various things. And I do really like doing them, I really enjoy them. I like having the opportunity to talk and connect with people connecting is one of my favorite aspirations and goals. I really like that. I’ve got a couple of podcasts, and I really enjoy doing that. So, there’s part of me that’s like, yeah, it’s legit. But then there’s also part of me that especially in 2020, and in the build up to it, is this idea of the quota. Is that what everyone is thinking? It just can add to that level of questioning, like why is that? And I think I’ve gotten to a point now where I’ve kind of worked through that a little bit. I don’t have time or the energy. There is something exciting and dynamic and engaging about being in more diverse environments. For sure.

Ashley: Absolutely. Can you share a time that you were made to feel shame around your body? Or proud?

Nadia: Oh, big question. I think it is so common in our society for women in particular, perhaps to feel shame around their body rather than pride. And you know, when was the last time I felt really proud about my body? I don’t know. That’s not a natural go-to thought and I don’t think I’m alone in that. I think it’s something that it doesn’t really even occur to me to think, oh, let me take a moment to think I’m really proud of my body. I think this is a bigger conversation of when we allow ourselves to feel proud, it’s so linked to accomplishment. I’m proud that I got this degree, I’m proud that I won this prize, I’m proud that I’ve achieved something. So, when it comes to your body got I remember I did a lot of gymnastics and dancing and stuff as a kid. And I think that question about pride around your body, I think it’s very, my mind automatically goes to feeling proud when I could first do a handstand, you know, feeling proud when I first could do something which again, links into this accomplishment thing. And then actually, when you think about it, and take a minute, and I did have to take my minute, when was the last time I felt proud about my body? My body does amazing things every day without me even thinking about it. It’s not even a conscious thought. My body keeps working behind the scenes, which is incredible and amazing, but you have to stop and think about it. It’s a good point to come back to and have that gratitude practice and appreciation.

When we talk and think about positive body image, in body image research, is this much broader idea of appreciating your body, respecting your body, taking care of your body, celebrating and having gratitude for all of the things that your body can do, and does for us. Those are the things that I’m actively trying to do. There’s physical movement, there’s engaging in creative pursuits, but then there’s the behind the scenes stuff that your body does in terms of: it sleeps, restores, digests food, all of these things that you’re not even conscious of, which is incredible. In the scientific space of body image, people talk about that in terms of body functionality and thinking about the different various functions of your body. It’s a good question to think about pride and bodies.

On the flip side, with the shame around bodies, that’s such a natural go-to for so many of us to feel shame and feel that your body is wrong in some way. And it’s how to proactively break that cycle, right. I think there are a number of different ways you can go about that, but just acknowledging that it’s so common and then the fact that it’s not just you that has felt body shame, because I think shame is such an all-consuming emotion. Sometimes it’s easy to feel isolated in that. But knowing that so many people feel shame about their body for different reasons. Knowing that you’re not alone is a step, and then working out how to unpack that shame and moving away from it. I think we are conditioned to feel shame about our bodies. It’s taught. We don’t wake up feeling shame. We’re not born ashamed of our bodies, right? But we are taught to feel shame for our bodies. I think it’s good to keep thinking about identity, but shame about our body for being women or shame about our bodies if you are not on the gender binary, or shame about your body for being larger in your thighs, for being older and for that to show on your face or in your body. There are all of these different ways that society can make you feel ashamed of our bodies. I think that’s, again, something to zoom out and look at, and then how to then move towards the idea of pride. It’s such a big thing to go from shame to pride, but how do you take those steps along the way and have that small gratitude practice, to do those kind of acts of resistance against feeling shame about your body and finding ways to appreciate it and respect and care for it.

Ashley: At least for me, it feels like it’s so much easier to internalize feelings of shame rather than internalize the feelings of accomplishment and pride and gratitude. Do you find that for yourself as well? What do you think that’s linked to?

Nadia: Yeah, absolutely. Capitalism? I think capitalism has got a lot to answer for with stuff like that. But I think we’re so geared up to achieve and accomplish and achieve and accomplish and you keep going and you keep going and, you know, “Rest. What’s that? Who she?” That kind of idea of how do you pull back and still be okay? And that idea of it being easier to internalize those negative emotions means that you have to double down twice as hard to proactively reach for those positive ones about yourself as that act of resistance. So it’s work, but it’s worth it.

Ashley: I love that small acts of resistance. I like the way that sounds. I love that idea.

Nadia: Yeah, I’m sure someone else has said it first, but I don’t know who to attribute that to.

Ashley: So, the big one: social media. How do you think social media impacts the way we view our bodies? And do you think social media is positive or negative? Is it a positive or negative force? In people valuing their bodies?

Nadia: It’s a big question. It’s a really important one. And lots of people are very interested in the answer, right? If we look at the body image literature, with academics studying body image, I spoke about my center, but there’s lots of body image researchers around the world who are studying how people think and feel about the way they look. And social media is a hot topic. Everyone wants to understand what impact it has, and I think initially, everyone was like, all social media is terrible. It’s really bad. So, it’s gonna make you feel awful. And I think there’s absolutely an element of tha. So, if we look at the research, what we find is that engaging in social media, that’s very appearance focused. Whether that’s pictures of the body, whether that’s quotes and comments about the body, that kind of social media and Instagram being the one that I think we go to defer to most often now is unhelpful, generally speaking.I think that’s an important thing to say. When we’re looking at research, we study people in groups, we want to find the norm, what on average is happening when people are engaging in social media. So, when we look at these big studies, and we pull data together, on average, when people engage in social media, they feel worse about their bodies and themselves. Now, you might be an exception to that rule. We’re all different people. We’re all our own people. Some people can look at very idealized images on social media, and it doesn’t touch them. They have a, you know, more resilient, protective filter that stops it, but on average, that’s what we see. So when we’re thinking about the negative impacts, what we’re really thinking about and examining, is when we see these idealized images on social media. It’s when we’ve seen lots of models, celebrities influencers who conform to societal standards of beauty or apparent standards more broadly. And there’s lots of those images of people in their bikinis or you know, wearing very little clothes and it’s zoomed in or, or whatever, and applying filters. And then there’s the commentary around bodies, too. So you might have that picture and it will be accompanied by “Oh yeah, body goals” and lots of emoji like flames, rain frames, and all of that. We’ve got this association between that kind of social media and then people feeling worse about themselves. If the appearance comparison is the most potent pathway. So, if you’re looking at these images, you may be reading the comments. And you’re like, “I don’t look as good as this,” but that’s what is driving that body dissatisfaction as a result, and it’s also in conjunction with that, so you’re engaging in that comparison but you’re also internalizing societal standards of beauty or societal appearance standards so you believe it to be true that to be thinner, it’s better to have no lines in your face, and then when you’re feeling it and comparing yourself, that’s the pathway to feeling not so good.

We talked about objectification as well. So again, that’s zoomed in. It kind of allows you to be hypercritical of yourself. That could be a picture of your own self that you’re posting on Instagram or whatever and researchers have found when people are engaging in lots of self-editing, and then really seeking validation in terms of likes, like no lines on your face, then when you’re fearing it and comparing yourself that’s the pathway to feeling not so good. You’re really handing over your relationship to your body to the masses on social media. That’s the negative side of things. There are some really toxic things as well. We haven’t even mentioned the diet pills and stuff that get advertised on social media, the things like pro Ana and the pro eating disorder type content, like there’s a lot of toxic content. And there’s a spectrum, right. So I think there’s content that people put out that isn’t intended to be harmful, but it is, or can be, depending on the individual looking at it.

On the flip, that’s not the only type of content that we have on social media. There’s educational content. The body positivity movement has flourished with social media and had that huge resurgence to social media with the much greater diversity of bodies on social media. That really has been what has driven mainstream brands to change how they represent people in their advertising and media campaigns. It’s had a huge push. Because it has shown that people do like people of all different shapes and sizes. I think there’s always been this argument from mainstream media advertising, like, “Oh, you know, we work on aspiration,” like we have this very narrow, ideal and standard of appearance because that’s what people aspire to. That’s what people like, people don’t like any other type of appearance. If it’s not gonna make money by showing body diversity. But social media has shown us that people really do like other types of bodies, people do like body diversity. That’s really powerful. We have heard different accounts on social media about people talking about their journey through their bodies and I think that can help normalize people’s own relationship with their body. I think that can be useful and valuable to people. I think that there’s a spectrum and there is some research that has focused on the more positive side of social media and has shown it can lead to immediate boosts in people’s body image and body esteem. People on social media who don’t fit that conventional narrow stereotype can lead to that immediate boost in mood and positive body image.

There’s a study looking at parodies. Celeste Barber parodies all those kind of mainstream models. She kind of pokes fun at it. And she’s a conventionally attractive woman, but she’ll mock that a bit and they’re very sexualized images where she’ll do a side by side with a supermodel. And then there’s her. And it’s kind of funny. And I think it just disrupts that comparison process. It helps you engage in that rational side of your brain thinking, “Oh, wait, why am I comparing myself?” They’re absurd images, it’s kind of powerful. And then there’s some other research looking at self-compassion quotes and on social media, how that can be a positive influence. Those gentle reminders from left field, the idea that you’re more than your body and your body is more than its appearance. Kind of cliche quotes at this point now, but they’re important, right? They’re good reminders and can help you. And maybe just drop some of those other messages that you might have on your social media feed.

Ashley: That’s what I keep thinking about, like conscious messages versus like, unconscious messages or, you know, processing things. Are we assuming that all of the negative things that people are internalizing on social media, is this happening on an unconscious level? I don’t use social media. It invites comparison on many different levels, not just about your body. I didn’t find it helpful for me.

Nadia: I respect that. You’ve made a conscious decision, you’ve been intentional. I think that’s a really powerful decision to be like, “This is what I need to do. This is my boundary. I do not engage in social media.” I think it’s really useful for people to hear and know that you can opt out. There’s so much pressure to be engaging and be part of this thing. There are some benefits, let’s not completely deny all of those, especially in the last year that we’ve had. It’s been an opportunity for connection when we’ve not been able to have it elsewhere. But the thing with social media is being intentional, is knowing yourself and your own relationship with it. And then to your point about how conscious or subconscious it is, it’s an extension of mainstream media. All of these messages that you’re bombarded with at all times. Historic researchers have always said the media is bad for body image because we’re showing these ideals and we’re bombarded with these ideals and advertising and TV and movies and it’s toxic for body image. It becomes something that you internalize and I think that’s not a conscious thought. I don’t think we’re all out there being like, “I’m trying to internalize this.” But, also you are in control of your own social media. You can choose who you follow, you can choose how long you spend on the app, you can choose whether to completely be off it altogether. It’s up to you. You have agency over social media. You are in control, it doesn’t control you. I don’t know if you’ve seen that Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, but it’s good to watch. It’s kind of terrifying honestly, because it shows social media for what it is. There’s essentially the idea that these apps are all free, right? We’re not paying for it, but then if they’re not paying what you become is the product. They’re looking at your data. It does make you really stop and think. It’s all advertising platforms. Yes, there are points of connection and community on there. I think there are ways of educating people on social media, though, on all of these different platforms. Tthere are opportunities within it. However, big picture, it’s an advertising platform.

Ashley: Mind blown. What’s it? What’s the documentary? Okay, yeah. That’s the perfect thing for me to do this weekend, since we’re on lockdown. How has systemic oppression impacted you personally? Or has it?

Nadia: There are lots of different forms of systemic oppression. I think if we can read talk about race for other example, what’s really interesting to me is that you can be affected by systemic oppression, even if you are not the direct recipient. The bigger thing for me, and I think this year has really highlighted it, is how what’s going on in the world then had that repercussion and the wave that then hit me just by knowing that people who look like me are treated worse. That might not be me directly. But it’s people who looked like me or her. We have a common identifier. So just knowing with the pandemic, and with COVID, that black and brown people in the UK are disproportionately dying, have poor health care, there’s all of this institutional racism that still goes on in this country, although it’s not as blatant as it perhaps once was. It is still there. Although that might not affect me directly, because I’ve got the different privilege cards. It might not impact me directly. It’s not me, it’s not happening to me, maybe it’s not happening to my family, but it’s happening to people who look like me. And there’s the repercussions of that. Thinking about systemic racism, institutional racism in the workplace, in academia, the place in which I work, it’s very easy to be like, “Well, you know, I’ve got a Harvard degree.” I’ve got all of these kinds of prizes that we put to our name. Then people will say, “Well, no, institutional racism, no, because look at you, you’re the example that this doesn’t exist.” And then I have to be like, “Hang on, I’m sorry, we need to zoom out.” And I need to be the exception to be accepted. And it’s that idea and the pressure to be exceptional, to be accepted. It’s a pressure and the knowing that I have to do a lot and also have a lot of other privilege that allows me in the spaces in which I operate, and that there are so many people who look like me that are not let inside the door. In terms of the impact it will have on me, as I say, I have not born the brunt of, you know, racial violence, for example. I’ve never had something, you know, huge happen, but I think it’s that individual awareness, and then needing to have that hyper vigilance as well. I think it’s probably the biggest impact.

Ashley: What are some of your privilege cards? Because you’ve mentioned that a few times.

Nadia: I’m relatively small, so I don’t encounter weight stigma and that’s a whole conversation that we can have. I’m able bodied. I am in an English speaking country, I speak English, I don’t have an accent, English is my first language. It’s my only language. The education cards that I have that they allow me to operate in the spaces that I work and get the respect that I get. What would it be if I was much larger in size? What would it be? If I were a wheelchair user? What would it be? There are so many different iterations of what if it would be. How would I be accepted? And the weight stigma thing, it’s very related to the work that I do. Just knowing that, people who are larger in size, are dramatically discriminated against, and that’s from education, to health care, to the workplace, poor salaries, less likely to get that promotion, less likely to get the job in the first place, because of all these negative stereotypes that we hold. That’s something I’ve been really thinking about this year, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, but there’s been a lot of conversation around it. But the difference, you know, so I’m a person of color, but I’m not a black woman. And there’s a difference there. And also, the fact that I’m half white, again, does have another factor that affords certain privileges. It’s something to really examine and reflect on. And I think that’s why it’s important for me to name various points of privilege that I have, because if that’s ever a struggle for me, who are all the people that are lining up behind? That’s something to think about.

Ashley: Absolutely. That’s a great insight that you have.

Nadia: Thanks to the work of a lot of other people who have shared their experiences, and also written extensively about this, written about intersectionality, written about discrimination, prejudice, racism, etc. It’s all out there. We are fortunate to have access to the internet and do that learning. And I think this year has been a real awakening for a lot of people to do that work. And continue to. It’s not one and done.

Ashley: This is a perfect segue into our next question, a lighter question, much lighter. Who inspires you?

Nadia: I’m inspired by a lot. I’m 34 now. Now I think I have changed in how I answer this question. If you were to ask me this 10 years ago, it would be different. I used to be inspired by the success, the accomplishment, the thing that person has done. Now, I feel more inspired by qualities and characteristics in people that I respect and admire. I have more admiration for people who are really generous, or thoughtful, or able to bring the light into the world in some way. That inspires me far more than if someone has won something or done something. And the two might overlap, right? Someone might win something because they have these incredible qualities of diligence and passion and compassion and compassion. They can overlap. But I think now I’m drawn to the quality a lot more than the outcome. I think of my family, my friends, my colleagues, my mom who is gracious in everything she does. I feel like it’s such a far stretch from how I can be. But you know, there’s time, there’s always time, and my dad who’s so gentle, and has really aligned his action with his values. My sister’s very affectionate, and is able to draw so much warmth from the people who surround her. Those are really wonderful qualities. But then, in terms of the body image work and the work that I do, I’m very fortunate to work in a place where we all have the same core goal and value. People’s hard work and passion for making other people feel better about how they look in the body that they live in. That they can go and lead a fulfilling life. That’s really inspiring to me on a daily basis. It doesn’t need to be some big things. It’s those small things.

Ashley: Yeah, thank you. I hope your family listens to the podcast… What nourishes you and how do you take care of yourself?

Nadia: This year more than ever, the fact that there’s been so much change and uncertainty and adversity this year, I think has really helped be like, you need to double down on what does nourish me and how do I care for myself in this very strange, precarious circumstance that we all have found ourselves in. I love to be outside in nature. I love to be hiking, or walking, or cycling, or swimming, love all of that. I find that doing anything like that is great, and being with friends and family is just such a cool thing to make me feel whole. You can always come back to that and it’s that sigh of relief. You can relax. You can be yourself, and then restore and replenish in different ways. I think they’re my biggest two things: spending time with people who really know me and then being outside, being in the world. That’s the grounding aspect. There’s lots of research that shows being in nature is good for mental health and actually some research to show that being out in nature is good for body image even. It’s the idea of being really grounded and being yourself in a world that’s much bigger. There is beauty in so many other different ways than just the body. You got out and about and moving. I really like that and need that. I need that time for myself to be outside. The worst weeks or days in this past year are where I’ve not left my apartment. I’ve just been at my laptop, and then I wonder why I feel terrible. I’ve not done what I needed. It’s going out for a walk, or going for a swim, or going for a cycle. And just before we went into our first lockdown here in the UK in March, I bought a new bike and it was absolutely the best thing I could have done for myself. It’s just been the most incredible, enjoyable thing. I live on my own. So, to go out on my little bike and cycle, I’ve got beautiful countryside around me and it was such a gift during lockdown where I couldn’t really see people, I couldn’t have that connection with people in the way that I would normally like. That was a real gift.

Ashley: Beautiful. And what’s been a resource for you that’s been helpful on your journey. That can be anything – could be a person, a thing, an activity, a website, a mantra.

Nadia: Good question. It’s hard to think of one thing most recently, where shifting some of my focus from achievement to connection has been really important. I mentioned I’ve got a couple of podcasts and working with the two independently has been a really important thing for me and my own position in what I’m doing. I don’t know if that makes sense, but most recently, in the latest phase of my journey. I think in terms of defining my own space, and my own thoughts, and it’s just been a really enjoyable process of sometimes, when things are a little bit stressful, and whatever you can, and we’ve worked together, and I’ve been very fortunate working with Jade and working with Honey. I have such a good relationship with both. It’s a very freeing thing to be able to do. I would say that at the moment it has been a lovely resource.

Ashley: And so where can all the listeners stay in touch with you? How can people find you?

Nadia: I am on Instagram, I do the social media intermittently. So I’m at Nadia Craddock. And then as I mentioned, I do these two podcasts. I do one podcast for my research center. So, it’s got that academic slant to it. Jade and I have the podcast called Appearance Matters, and it’s looking at the research around body image and appearance. And then the other podcast I do just for fun, is with Honey Ross, and it’s called The Body Protest. And that’s really good fun. And we speak to lots of different people about their own journeys with their bodies and themselves, and it’s just a wonderful thing to be able to do.

Ashley: That’s great. Well, thank you so much. This has been truly very, you’re a great resource.

Nadia: Thank you very much. It’s been a really lovely conversation.

Ashley: You take care.

Nadia: Thank you, you too.

Ashley: Thank you for listening to In This Body and being a part of these important conversations. If you want to be on the side of positive change are all bodies and identities are represented and empowered. Keep doing your part to speak up against systems of oppression and injustice and stand up for diversity. As the late great Audrey Lord said your silence will not protect you. Your voice matters. Peace and Love, y’all.