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Helping Young People with Body Image

This week a post that caught my eye on social media was from the charity Young Minds who shared some advice on what to do if your child is worried about how they look. 

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The increase in screen time for students gives them more exposure to filtered and edited images of others. In the past I have discussed articles from The Guardian, about selfie dismorphia and The New Yorker, about instagram face and my classes have shared some of the feelings discussed in these articles. Young minds advise students: 

  • To not compare themselves with anyone else, particularly as images on social media are not always an accurate reflection of real life.  

  • Review who they follow. Students have told me this that this is not something that they find easy: while they can identify what can make them feel bad about themselves, they do not always feel able to “unfollow”.  

  • Find body positive accounts and comments and learn to love who we are. 

  • Focus on what they like about themselves, starting with one thing and trying to build a list. When students find this difficult, they can think about the things that their bodies help them do. 

  • Think about advice that they would give to a friend and try to apply it to themselves. 

As adults it can be frustrating to see young people continue to engage with online content that doesn’t make them feel good about themselves. Unfollowing or blocking a negative account seems like a straightforward solution but it can feel like a more emotionally challenging decision. A teen's perspective suggests that adults try to find out more about how young people use social media differently from us. Understanding their perspective is the first step in how we will be better equipped to support them. 

Alexandra Hands

Deputy Head Pastoral