BE REAL’s

BodyKind

High School Body Image & Appearance Bias Curriculum

Curriculum Overview

Today’s explosion of visual social media use—such as Instagram and TikTok– has created an epidemic of body image problems for young people. Body dissatisfaction affects upwards of 70% of adolescent girls and 40% of adolescent boys. Research ties body dissatisfaction to a host of adolescent mental health problems. COVID has exacerbated these mental health problems for young people, as they have spent more time alone and on social media. There is a critical need for a body image curriculum to be taught in schools. 

BE REAL created BodyKind to provide an evidence-based, high school body image curriculum to address the needs of today’s students. This 4-lesson curriculum for high school, health class starts with what the field of eating disorder prevention has learned from 20 years of research on body image and eating disorder prevention. We added a discussion of Appearance Bias–discrimination based on physical features–to the conversation. We talk about how experiencing prejudice affects student body confidence. We’ve also added evidence- based, self-compassion tools for students to use when they compare themselves to images of people they see on social media.

Be Real’s Bodykind curriculum includes:

Four 50-minute lesson plans

Worksheets

In-class exercises

A teacher toolkit

Classroom slides

Training videos for teachers

Be Real’s Bodykind Lesson Summaries

Lesson 1

Appearance Ideals and Appearance Bias – Students analyze their own body experiences and determine what has influenced their beliefs about what they are “supposed” to look like. They think about messages they have received from their family, friends, and the media/culture. This includes the Appearance Bias they have experienced due to the way they look. Students listen to other people’s body stories, gaining an awareness of how people–of different sizes and abilities, with different skin shades, facial features, gender representations, and other identities–experience the world. We discuss the impact of how Appearance Ideals and Appearance Bias have pressured people to look a very specific way. We analyze the costs of responding to the appearance pressure in their environment.

Lesson 2

Social Media, Comparisons, and Self-Compassion – Once students become aware of appearance pressures, we analyze how these pressures show up in our lives and in the media we consume. We discuss how self-compassion is an effective tool to cope with the negative comparisons we all make to the pictures we see on social media. Experiential exercises reframe the negative comparisons we make in our minds to kinder, more self-compassionate thoughts that will ultimately serve us better.

Lesson 3

Compassion for Others – Lesson 3 teaches students how to apply the newly cultivated compassion for themselves to other people. Students discuss how to create a kinder environment by quitting “body talk” and recognizing that bodies function fine in all shades, shapes, and sizes. We analyze how students’ thoughts, feelings, and actions are more positive in a kinder environment.

Lesson 4

Social Justice – In Lesson 4 students are given the tools to become change agents. They focus on steps they can take to create a better world. We help students create their own roadmap for taking an idea from an issue to action. They will learn tested, tangible steps to create an action plan on an issue they feel strongly about, empowering them to make positive changes in their communities.

Here is a preview of the BodyKind’s Lesson 1 Understanding Others exercise: Take a gallery walk–like our high school students do–to understand what it is like to live in other bodies outside society’s appearance ideal. When we piloted these lessons, students have universally loved this exercise which cultivates empathy and shared humanity.

Understanding Others

A compilation of stories about what it is like to live in bodies outside of the culture’s narrow appearance ideal. These stories illustrate how not fitting into the dominant cultural norm can affect a person’s self-worth, equal rights, and opportunities. We are looking at appearance prejudice and it effects. BE REAL hopes this series will show the importance of valuing all bodies, and how valuing all bodies directly leads to valuing all people.

For more Understanding Others stories, follow us on Instagram #BeRealUSA.

How to get Be Real’s Bodykind High School Body Image Curriculum

Individual Teachers

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Make an $25 donation to BE REAL which helps to support our non-profit mission (requested, not required)

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View the 1 hour and 30-minute video

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Take 10 question test. When you get a 90% on the test (you can take it multiple times), BE REAL will automatically open the BodyKind material:

  • Lesson Plans for 4 50-minute lessons
  • Slide show for in class
  • Worksheets, exercises, and homework
  • Teacher Toolkit

Coming Soon!

Group Training

for 1-36 People on Zoom

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Denise Hamburger will train your small group for ~2.5 hours

  • She will answer questions and discuss specific issues at your school
  • She will give your team best practices lessons for  teaching the curriculum
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$1000 donation to BE REAL.

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Optional: Each participant can take an 18 question test to become an Ambassador. Denise will discuss test answers.

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Link to all material:

  • Lesson Plans for 4 50-minute lessons
  • Slide show for in class
  • Worksheets, exercises, and homework
  • Teacher Toolkit

In-Person Group Training

for 1-100 People

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Denise Hamburger will train any size group in person for ~2.5 hours

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$2500 donation to BE REAL.

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Optional: Each participant can take an 18 question test to become an Ambassador. Denise will discuss test answers.

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Link to all materials:

  • Lesson Plans for 4 50-minute lessons
  • Slide show for in class
  • Worksheets, exercises, and homework
  • Teacher Toolkit

Bodykind was created by a team of International Body Image Experts

Be Real’s BodyKind has been researched, written, and tested by an international team of academics and experts:

Denise Hamburger

Denise Hamburger

Executive Director of BE REAL USA, curriculum writer, teacher, and attorney

Zali Yager

Zali Yager

Associate Professor at the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University; CEO, The Body Confident Collective

Jennifer Webb

Jennifer Webb

Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Science and Health Psychology at UNC Charlotte

Ciara Mahon

Ciara Mahon

Post-doctoral researcher in the Youth Mental Health Lab at University College, Dublin

Mayra Almaraz

Mayra Almaraz

Social science curriculum specialist at the Chicago Public Schools, Teaching Tolerance award winning teacher

Jan Mooney

Jan Mooney

Doctoral student in the Health Psychology Ph.D. Program at UNC Charlotte

K.G. Smith

K.G. Smith

Healthcare administration graduate student at UNC Charlotte

Tran Tran

Tran Tran

Doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology and Health Psychology Department at UNC Charlotte

Verenice Gomez-Trejo

Verenice Gomez-Trejo

Pre-med junior at the University of Chicago

Be Real’s Bodykind Meets US Health Education Curriculum Standards

National Standards

The Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) is an assessment tool to help school districts and schools analyze health education curriculum. The BodyKind curriculum meets HECAT Standard 2: Analyzing Influences.

HECAT Standard 2: Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, and other factors on health behaviors. Grades 9–12 Skill Expectations:

          • Analyze how culture supports and challenges health beliefs, practices, and behaviors.
          • Analyze how peers and perceptions of norms, personal attitudes, values, and beliefs influence healthy and unhealthy behaviors.
          • Analyze how school and community affect personal health practices and behaviors.
          • Analyze the effect of media and technology on personal, family, and community health.
          • Differentiate the relevant influences, including family, culture, peers, school, community, media, technology, and public health policies, on personal health practices and behaviors.

      CDC’s School Health Guidelines: Characteristics of an Effective Health Education Curriculum Guideline 2: School environment: Establish school environments that support healthy eating and physical activity.

      Create a school environment that encourages a healthy body image, shape, and size diversity among all students and staff members; is accepting of diverse abilities; and does not tolerate weight‐based teasing.

State Standards

National Health Education Standards (NHES) were developed by the CDC with a team of experts to establish, promote, and support health-enhancing behaviors for students in all grade levels. NHES is an accepted reference on health education, providing a framework for the adoption of each state’s health education curriculum standards.

NHES Standard 2: Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors.

“Our beliefs about bodies disproportionately impact those whose race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and age deviate from our default notions. The further from the default, the greater the impact. We are all affected – but not equally.”

― Sonya Renee Taylor, The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love

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