Curriculum

Body image and media skills are areas that are poorly addressed in the KS1 and 2 landscape, yet the risks associated with poor media use and damaging self-image are widespread and growing. Circus Door have developed a curriculum to tackle just this issue. 

Here you can find a sample and if you would like any more information, please don't hesitate to contact us: emihowe@outlook.com


Introduction

Welcome to the Primary Education Body Image and Media Skills Work Pack. Body image and concerns around it are emerging as a significant and growing problem among children of primary age. Children as young as three years old are identifying with diet culture[i], by the age of five girls start to have appearance conversations and can restrict food (34%)[ii], at nine a girl’s self-esteem peaks and by ten,  81% of girls are afraid of getting fat[iii]. Researchers have proved links between food restriction in adolescence and weight gain in later life as counterproductive behavioural patterns emerge.[iv]

The National Education Union:

‘Girls as young as five were worrying about their size and appearance. That from as young as seven, girls say they feel embarrassed and ashamed of how they look.’

As we ready children for key stage 3, the Girl Guides tell us that:

Almost half of girls (45%) sometimes feel ashamed of the way they look because they are not like girls and women in the media. The numbers who feel this way increase from 36% among those aged 11 to 16, to 52% of girls aged 17 to 21.


39% aged 11 to 21 told us they often stop themselves taking part in fun activities because they are self-conscious about their appearance, and 30% take part less in the classroom/at work because they feel concerned about their appearance[v].

While traditionally something that impacts girls, we are now seeing more and more boys experiencing feelings of body dissatisfaction and a desire to have a certain type of body.

With this work pack we aim to remind our young people that a range of different bodies is natural in society and that one of the healthiest things we can do is to celebrate and be proud of our unique and special bodies. The resources are created to counter the statistics above but also as a means to address body-related bullying, othering and exclusion. Providing children with the opportunity to leave their primary education with a positive self-regard and greater respect for their peers.

I hope you find the work pack useful and welcome any feedback: emihowe@outlook.com


 Trigger Warning

It’s not always easy talking about bodies, even as adults the narrow idea of “the good body” can be strong as it is deeply ingrained in our culture and particularly our media. Most of us haven’t had this learning input in our lives and some of us may have received repeated false information about bodies.  The work pack offers a way to start difficult conversations and explore the most important relationship we’ll ever have – the one with ourselves.

It can be triggering doing this work so please be gentle with yourself and mindful of other colleagues. If it brings up any feelings or resistance these can be helpful areas to explore either alone by journaling, or talking with a trusted friend or with a counsellor or by contacting one of the support links in the resource section.

If you would like to gain a greater understanding of the subject and learn more about the development of the work pack you can read my story: The Body Hoax – How to Stop Believing in Fantasy Bodies

I also offer workplace training through the BodEquality Body Image Training at Work

And finally a TED talk.  

 

Using the work pack

The pack will cover three core areas: The Good Body Myth; The Wonder of Bodies and Celebrating My Real Body. There are further extension activities to help offer a range of enjoyable activities while integrating the National Curriculum and solidifying learning.

Included in this pack are three assembly plans and classroom lesson plans differentiated into year groups. This is with a view that the pack can be used as a whole school project, reused to reinforce learning in future years or adapted to your needs. The work pack is a great addition to your PSHE programme and will support your anti-bullying strategies.

 

Safeguarding

As a matter of safeguarding, it’s vital that no one feels made an example of or has unwanted attention brought to them in the process of this work. It’s important therefore that the children know that this can be a difficult subject and that when we talk about it, we don’t use people’s names or use examples of people present.

We can be conscious that body feelings can apply not just to the individual but to family members too. For example a child may feel very self-conscious of a parent’s body or may even be bullied about it.

Away from this programme when we talk about health, going forward, we can be mindful not to attach health to body shape and it gives us an opportunity to reinforce that there are many ways to have a healthy body, including a healthy mind and healthy feelings.


Assembly – The Good Body Myth

Introduction

Explain that in today’s assembly, you will be thinking about bodies - start with two truths

Truth number one

We all have a body and our relationship with it is the longest one we’ll ever have

Truth number two

Everybody’s body is different

Then pose a question to the assembly – what makes a good body?

The feedback might be really positive and full of great things we can do with our bodies and it may also have some feedback that includes a more narrow view of what makes a good body – thin or strong or big or small.

Ask another question – ask the students to have a think – what is special or unique about your body?

Take a few responses

At the end of the discussion admit to the assembly, it was a trick question. All bodies are good bodies. They support us all in different ways because we’re all different and that is natural and normal. Take a look around any public space and you’ll see it’s true. At the supermarket, at the swimming pool, at the park.

 

What is The Good Body Myth?

Explain that sometimes the messages we get from the world around us, give us a narrow idea of what a good body is. This is the Good Body Myth. This is especially true when we watch TV or use devices. The world that we see electronically through the tv or online often shows a world that isn’t real and doesn’t show a realistic mix of bodies. So we can come to believe that all bodies should be like the ones we see there.

This can lead to other myths such as, I should change my body or I need to be tall and thin to be popular or I need to be muscly to play football. In reality we all have a body to be proud of and over our lifetimes our bodies will change and at different times. We are all born with different types of bodies and will grow up to be different shapes, heights, hair colour…

If there is an adult in the room, proud of their different body (with prior consent) perhaps you could explore this together. 

How might this impact bullying?

Explain how this might impact people in the form of bullying (avoid opening it up to discussion). If we wrongly believe that some bodies are better than others, you might start to believe that some people are better than others because of their bodies and that could be a real shame, for you and for others.

You might miss out on getting to know that person better if you judge them just by how they look. Sometimes people can be called names because of how they look, they can be left out of games or made to feel different and it can be very hurtful.

Conclusion

Explain that this has been a great introduction to talking about bodies and thank the assembly for their input.  Explain that they will cover more in their classrooms and there are two more assemblies to come to think more about our Amazing bodies!

Finish with the assembly repeating “All bodies are good bodies!” until you feel it’s loud enough!

 Thank the assembly for listening nicely. Let the students know it’s ok to ask if there’s anything they’re not sure of or need help with.



[ii] Damiano SR, Paxton SJ, Wertheim EH, McLean SA, Gregg KJ. Dietary restraint of 5-year-old girls: Associations with internalization of the thin ideal and maternal, media, and peer influences. Int J Eat Disord. 2015 Dec;48(8):1166-9. doi: 10.1002/eat.22432. Epub 2015 Aug 18. PMID: 26283500.

 

[iii] Mellin, Laurel M., et al. "Prevalence of disordered eating in girls: a survey of middle-class children." Journal of the American Dietetic Association, vol. 92, no. 7, July 1992, pp. 851+. Gale OneFile: Health and Medicine, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A12993083/HRCA?u=anon~e2e5b62e&sid=googleScholar&xid=e4d2db3b.

 

[iv] Grabe, S. et al. (2008) The Role of the Media in Body Image Concerns Among Women: A Meta-Analysis of Experimental and Correlational Studies in American Psychological Association 2008 Vol 134, No 3, 460-476

 

[v] CAP/BCAP (2018) Gender stereotypes in advertising CAP and BCAP’s evaluation of responses, https://www.asa.org.uk/uploads/assets/uploaded/03e2fb9c-f878-4c65-81344257b667d1ab.pdf