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Having a Positive Body Image

One of the things that has been an issue for many of us during the lockdown and this subsequent period of Virtual School, is the lack of activity and resulting weight gain.

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In today’s society, with the drive to always be on display on social media and with so many ads showing us the ‘body beautiful’, the expectations we place on ourselves and our appearance can be very high and put us under enormous pressure, creating negative feelings. It has become all too common to use negative language about our appearance – I’m too fat/ too thin; I’m ugly/ unattractive; My hair is too long/ too short/ a mess; I hate my freckles; My nose is too long; etc. Speaking this way places undue emphasis on our looks and creates the burden of self-doubt that comes from appearance pressures. Maybe it is also becoming too easy to throw these types of comments at others when we are angry and upset, as a recent survey shows that more than half of 11 to 16-year-old’s have been bullied about their looks, and 40% of children are targeted at least once a week.

As this is Anti-bullying week, it is a good time to look at this issue and see what happens when what we think and feel about the way we look has a negative impact and prevents us from doing things like seeing friends and family or getting involved in sports teams or clubs, or has us shying away from social media.

The Dove Self-esteem project looks at body image and offers a range of activities designed to promote self-esteem and a positive body image. Their article ‘When your child is being bullied over their appearance’ looks at the key elements of bullying (the imbalance of power, it’s intension to hurt, it’s repeated) and the signs and symptoms to look out for, and it provides tips and strategies on how best to respond. Read the full article HERE

The article also provides a link to the ‘Uniquely Me’ Parent’s Guide to Building Body Confidence provided by the Dove Self-esteem project. I can highly recommend this comprehensive guide which offers advice and activities to encourage young people to think positively about the way they look. Although it is aimed mainly at girls, the guide can be adapted for boys, and the ‘Confident Me’ section is developed to accommodate both genders.

Norah Buckley

Assistant Head, Safeguarding