In Year 11 Health this term, the girls have been learning about body image, the impact it has among adolescents and how peers and family can be used as resources to improve body image. Through studying this topic, we have learnt that body image is one of the leading health-related issues among adolescents, particularly teenage girls, where nearly 50% of Australian girls said they are concerned about their bodies. As we live in a world where we are bombarded with unrealistic beauty standards through the media, it can be very challenging to not compare ourselves to what we see. Body image is important as these unrealistic standards can have a harmful effect on a person’s image, self-esteem, self-worth and mental health. In reality, it is normal for teenage girls to experience moments of dissatisfaction and discomfort surrounding their bodies. However, when these thoughts increase or intensify, more serious issues may develop and the individual might be at greater risk of engaging in unhealthy and unhelpful behaviours around food, exercise and supplements. Poor body image can lead to issues such as low self-esteem, obsessively thinking about body and appearance, changes to eating and exercise behaviours and withdrawing from things that are usually enjoyed. Some things to look out for and possible warning signs are: overly-focused on food/dieting, developing rigid patterns around food, skipping meals, changes in behaviour and constant body dissatisfaction.
‘Health Not Weight’ and Modelling Positive Body Image in the Household Environment
Health and wellbeing are determined by so much more than the number on the scale. As a parent, you have an important role in ensuring your daughter/s are educated on the fact that a person’s health, exercise and eating habits should not be assumed based on their size and appearance. It is important to note that if a person is engaged in balanced and healthy behaviours, they can be healthy in a larger body.
Children’s opinions on their body form at a very young age. Therefore, parents can play a critical role in helping children develop a positive body image and self-esteem. One of the most empowering ways to support the development of positive body image in young people is to show what a healthy body image looks like. Modelling healthy and balanced attitudes and behaviours around adolescents has a positive impact on them. This doesn’t mean having the perfect relationship with your appearance but instead, encouraging the acceptance of body diversity. Some ways to boost positive body image around the household environment are:
The Self Acceptance Project (SAP)
As part of Health and Wellbeing Week that runs from Monday, 17 to the Friday, 21 of August (Week 6), the Year 11 Health class has created a health strategy, called ‘The Self Acceptance Project’. The aim of this project is to promote body positivity within the Glennie community and help improve girls’ self esteem as well as the way they perceive their bodies and others. During this week girls in Years 10 to 12 will be encouraged to participate in activities within their Tutor every morning. We hope to help raise awareness for body positivity and in turn improve the overall health and wellbeing of the students at Glennie.
We encourage parents to engage in conversations with their daughters about the activities they have been participating in, and check in with them throughout the week.
If you are interested in more information and helpful resources concerning body image with adolescents, some online resources are listed below:
There are also resources available within Glennie, that can help with body image issues and any other issues students may have; which include Mrs Otto (School Psychologist), Heads of House / or any teacher, as well as the Year 11 Health class.
We hope you have a great week and stay tuned for updates about ‘The Self Acceptance Project’!
Mrs Kelly Dyson
Middle and Senior Years Teacher