Happy Friday! Hope you’ve all been keeping warm in this frigid weather.
This week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Body image and self-esteem are huge issues for children, particularly with the unreasonable expectations that society often presents us with for what beauty is “supposed to” look like.
In the past couple of weeks as I have confronted issues of bullying with the students, one thing that has repeatedly been surfacing is the use of unkind names. When children insult one another based on physical appearance (for example, calling each other fat or ugly), this can have a significant negative impact on their self-image. This is worse for students who may already be grappling with internal insecurities regarding the way they look.
This week in guidance, I took the opportunity to transition from bullying in a broader sense, to discussing body image and how important it is for us to build one another up instead of breaking each other down.
In Junior Kindergarten through 2nd grade, we read a story called “I’m Special, I’m Me!” by Ann Meek and Sarah Massini. Since they are younger, I focused the lesson more on self-confidence, and learning to focus on our strengths even if sometimes other people don’t say very nice things to us. We did a writing activity where we all identified what our best quality is, and why. There was also a group activity where every student went around and wrote something kind about every other student in the class. At the end, everyone had a piece of paper covered in compliments. The kids really loved it!
In grades 3-5, we watched a very powerful YouTube video made by Dove. I am not sure if you have heard of Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign. If not, it is a great thing to look up! For the past several years, due to the media portrayal of an unrealistic standard for beauty, Dove has sought to help kids (and adults) learn to feel great about themselves. They feature models of all sizes in their commercials, stand by never photoshopping images in advertisements, and in general campaign for the importance of honest representation of what normal people really look like — and how beautiful normal is. Their emphasis has been on changing standards of beauty for women, but so much of their work is applicable to boys and men, too.
I am including the video we watched in guidance below:
The older students also did an activity where they drew pictures of themselves, and then wrote down as many things they could think of that they liked about themselves and that they did not like about themselves. I so deeply appreciate how honest they were in their work, but as I read through the papers, it was clear to me how much work is still left to be done. I hope you will join efforts with me in reminding your children how beautiful, smart, and talented they are, and how worthy of love they are.
Have a wonderful weekend.