Be body positive
As part of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we’ve been hosting some guest blogs from the team at Bodywhys. Today is from their youth development officer, Fiona Flynn Dăscălescu.
The Bodywhys ‘Be Body Positive’ programme engages young people in secondary schools and youth groups. The programme provides information about eating disorders and encourages discussion on body image and self-esteem and try to explore and challenge media stereotypes around beauty.
When discussing body image, the message we often get from young people is that they feel a lot of pressure to look a certain way. They say this pressure comes both from people around them and the media.
The groups often allude to the body shapes they see in the media – the very slim, flawless look we commonly see for females and the very muscular, flawless look for guys as one source of this pressure. Trying to live up to this ideal can impact not only on how people feel about their appearance but also how they feel about themselves in general.
As part of the programme we explore ways to improve how we feel about ourselves. We talk about self-esteem and what it means. One thing all groups agree on is that nobody feels good all the time. All of us have times when we don’t feel great and that’s normal!
Having good self-esteem is not about feeling good all the time as that’s just not possible. A really important part of maintaining good self-esteem is recognising when you’re not feeling great and knowing what you can do to cheer yourself up.
How to work on it
Some ideas that groups have mentioned include: spending time with friends, listening to music, going for a walk, watching a funny movie. However, different things will work for different people so it’s important to know what works for you.
Why not set aside some time today to make a ‘happy list’ with ideas of things that could help to cheer you up when you’re in bad form? You could start by thinking of things you enjoy doing or people who make you feel good.
We also discuss how to improve body image specifically on the ‘Be Body Postive’ Programme. The groups often have great ideas in this area. Some of these include: focusing on what you like about yourself (we all have things we might not like but to try focusing on the things you do), following your own style, remembering images in the media are not real but a product of styling, good lighting and photo retouching techniques. You could also try writing a list of all the things you like about yourself without mentioning your looks.
Seeing yourself as you see others
This can help us to keep things in perspective and remember that body image is just one part of who we are. Considering what you like in other people can also help us to put things in perspective. During the programme, participants often say personality, feeling comfortable or understood, sharing common interests and a range of other things that make them like their friends. This can also help remind us what’s inside that counts and that body image really is just one part of a range of things that make us who we are.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer on our ‘Be Body Positive’ schools programme you can contact Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org.