Body image is the mental picture we have of our physical appearance and how we feel about it – in other words, it is what we believe and feel about how our body looks and includes how we think it might be viewed by others.
From a very young age, children are given clear messages about the link between appearance and character, for example in fairy tales where the ‘baddies’ are portrayed as unattractive and the hero is handsome or beautiful.
Children and young people see many images of people via the media every day, whereas in the past they would mainly have seen only their family and close community. As a result, children can develop an unrealistic, narrowly defined picture of how they think people should look. The images they see will often have been carefully selected and then subjected to image manipulation. Children therefore need support to evaluate what they see so that they can feel confident about themselves and their bodies. If children and young people see their appearance as a measure of their self worth, they may feel that they are inadequate in some way if they do not conform to the images of other young people seen in the media.
At puberty, children are dealing with a range of physical and emotional changes and they are likely to need additional support in maintaining and building their self esteem.
Provision for development of Primary work on Body Image
We offer and range of resources to support Body Image in Primary Schools:
Primary Personal Development Programme The Cambridgeshire Primary Personal Development Programme provides primary schools with all the resources needed to deliver a comprehensive PSHE curriculum from EYFS to year 6. It enables schools to review their current practice in PSHE and Citizenship and develop long term plans. Teachers can also access guidance on a range of teaching methodologies. The programme includes toolkits with up to date materials for reviewing and developing a range of policies. The customised software can be used to plan a teaching programme, access and distribute resources, and produce a wide range of reports and analyses. This programme contains a unit of work on body image, aimed at Years 5 and 6
Parents Body Image Awareness Sessions are available to support you in developing policy or raising awareness with your parent/carer body and the wider community.
Provision for development of Secondary work on Body Image
We offer and range of resources to support this area in secondary schools:
Secondary Wellbeing Frameworks for PSHE All of our materials for PSHE and Citizenship are based on a series of Wellbeing Frameworks which provide a developmental overview of all areas of learning. These frameworks build on national guidance for PSHE, identifying key areas of learning across the school curriculum.
Body Image Unit of Work KS3
This unit begins by enabling pupils to reflect on what it means to be healthy, considering physical, social and emotional aspects and how these might interrelate and fluctuate depending on a range of factors. Pupils will then consider how body image might fit into this picture of health, and again what might influence and support the development of a healthy body image. They will investigate how young people in their own context currently feel about themselves, how “body talk”, including self-talk can affect these feelings, and how they might respond, including being able to turn negative into positive in order to address their own body image and regain a positive frame of mind. Pupils will also consider how puberty might affect body image, and think about messages they might give younger pupils in order to navigate this time positively. The signs and symptoms of eating disorders, available support, and how they might support a friend are discussed, as is the influence of the media.
Supportive National Documents
In March 2015, the PSHE Association launched Teacher Guidance: key standards in teaching about body image, which offers teachers advice about the safe and confident teaching of body image as part of the PSHE curriculum.
YMCA Reflections on Body Image: http://www.ncb.org.uk/media/861233/appg_body_image_final.pdf
We offer courses on body image for schools staff and consultancy throughout the year.
For more information contact