Have you given much thought to how your body image – your thoughts and feelings about your body – impacts your wider life? Or those around you?
The way we understand health is over simplistic. It is holding us back from so much health potential. It’s time for a new level of understanding around health.
Children as young as three-years-old are identifying with diet culture and body shame. The children’s picture book Don’t Go Knocking at the Circus Door and its extension activities gives us the tools to have conversations around body image, the media, gender (un) roles, and self-belief.
To teach children that we cannot all have the same bodies, just like any other species we come in all different sorts. This is normal. If everyone ate the same things and did the same exercise we would still all be different.
To be aware of and avoid appearance-based commentary in the classroom
To be mindful in this respect of what kids say to each other.
What we say to the kids
What we say about our own bodies
What we say about our own food, clothes, movement choices.
We don’t need to comment on other’s bodies.
To understand that people having different bodies is natural and normal.
We don’t have to talk or comment on other people’s bodies or body parts.
If people do comment on our bodies we have a choice of whether to agree with them or not.
Questions to help discussion - What is a good body?
What do the posters tell us? How do they help us talk about the media and how bodies are used?
What do “stars” generally look like?
We can talk about the media being a form of “magic” or “trickery”. It’s not that everyone can or should have a certain type of body, it’s that only some types of bodies are chosen to be used in the media – it’s false. Look around, at school, in the supermarket, at the swimming pool. Different bodies are everywhere and that is normal and natural in the real world.
Was Steginoff being kind? Was he being a bully? Is it right to talk about how someone looks?
It’s not nice to talk about or notice is different about people’s bodies. It might be really hard for them. It also might be really boring to have to keep talking about it.
All bodies are great bodies. Our personal value is not in our bodies.
What is it in? How we make people feel, our talents, our behaviour and friendships, our style, our accomplishments, our personality, our …
What is inclusion? Why is it important?
Who is the Strongest?
What else is happening on this page? What is the Clown Alley Cleaner doing?
What is he feeling, thinking, doing? Why might he be doing that? Does it have anything to do with Steginoff saying “Men are Strong”?
Are only men strong? What ways can we be strong without being able to lift heavy things? E.g. standing up for a friend, being kind, not giving up on something, or believing in yourself.
What is the Popcorn Popper’s reaction to being told she doesn’t look like a circus star?
It turns out that The Clown Alley Cleaner is very talented but why does nobody know?
Have you ever felt shy? Had to be brave? Is that normal?
Does the Clown Alley Cleaner think his skills are valuable? Did anyone use unkind words or share ideas that weren’t true about bodies?
Don’t Go Knocking on the Circus Door shows us two people who were brave and followed their passion and skills despite what people thought of them.
Gender (un) Roles
It might also provide a good opportunity to talk about gender roles, traditional ones and more modern ideas.
Are there some jobs only men can do?
What are they?
Are there some jobs only women can do?
Some people still have strong ideas about certain jobs being for men and certain jobs for women but actually there aren’t many these days that can’t be done by both. As people choose to follow their passion and show others there’s little we can’t do if we want to.