“Body image issues and eating problems are best prevented when teachers are trained, school policies and school environment are modified, and parents are involved.”
We directly asked the high school kids, “Is it important to discuss body image in school? We got an overwhelming YES answer to the question. 91% of the kids we surveyed thought we shouldtalk about this in school. This is what they said,
Body image is not a regular topic of conversation in most homes today.
These checklists are of typical physical, social behavioral and psychological signs and symptoms of eating disorders. They are self-explanatory. I’d like to highlight afew. You are looking for a fear of food; a flat mood or mood swings; complaints about the self; and physically you are looking for big weight swings up or down.
Adopt anti-harassment and discrimination policies about body size.
A recent New York Times article reported that 85% of kids have seen a classmate teased about their body size in gym class. I asked a class of middle school kids when I was teaching if they had ever seen that happen. Every single child raised their hand. These fears of being singled out and teased are a big part of the pressure the kids experience to try to manage their body size.
Schools should have protocol in place for teasing or harrassing based on weight or appearance and make sure it is enforced, just as if someone were being teased about race or religion.
We woke up one boy who I just mentioned said he won’t tease anyone about body size anymore, which is another good thing about this discussion.
They also need to review posters/books/material to make sure they include all shapes, sizes in addition to including racial diversity.
Kids with larger bodies often feel invisible. It is hard to be larger than others in our Kardashian Culture of today.
Schools also need to ensure students of all sizes are encouraged to participate in activities.
And the last thing schools can do to create a body confident environment is to make sure it is using tested, evidence-based body image curriculum in health or advisory classes, which is the last step on our agenda today, and we will spend a couple minutes here. But, before I launch in, do you have any questions about these 3 steps?
I am recommending Dove’s Confident Mecurriculum to you. It is part of Dove’s Self Esteem project that the company adopted in 2004. I have a link to it on page 2 of the handout. It is a free resource.