We are all inundated with information about nutrition, exercise, weight, and health. Much of this information is misleading, inaccurate, and even dangerous. How do you know what to believe? What do you model and teach to others?
Let us help! We have vetted resources for you to use with children in classroom settings or for after-school groups. We have conducted research, attended trainings, read countless academic articles on these topics, and become familiar with various body image programs around the world. Whether you work with young children or young adults, you can find easy-to-use educational curriculum options to guide your work in the classroom or at home.
Together we can change a culture that isn’t working for any body.
Body dissatisfaction used to be considered a problem in adolescence. While this is still very much a concern for teens, we see much younger children with body image worries. Research found children as young as three years old have opinions on how bodies should look! A person’s body image develops from a complex mix of factors, but parental modeling and media exposure play significant roles. Don’t wait until your child is older to cultivate body acceptance. There are a number of shifts you can make within your home to positively shape your child’s self-image from an early age. We recommend the Confident Body, Confident Child curriculum and their website for lots of for additional resources.
Both the parenting program and the website offer parenting strategies to promote positive body image, healthy eating, and physical activity in children. This resource guides parents in helping their children develop body satisfaction and healthy eating patterns. It is valuable for older children, even though it is created for the younger child.
Confident Body, Confident Child was developed by a team of researchers from the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University, Australia. The team conducted a consensus study with a group of experts to find the safest and most reliable strategies parents can use with their young children to help prevent body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.
We all fondly remember middle school as the best years of our lives, right? Unfortunately for the majority of us, the answer to that is an emphatic NO! The combination of puberty, an increased emphasis on peer relationships, and the introduction of social media (for most) is a daunting one. It’s not surprising that body dissatisfaction continues to increase in this age group.
Confident Me Middle School Curriculum created by the Dove Self-Esteem Project
We encourage middle school teachers to take a look at the Confident Me body image curriculum developed by the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP). DSEP’s body image curriculum has been used by millions of young people throughout the world. It was created to meet Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) standards. HECAT is an assessment tool to help school districts, schools, and others conduct a clear, complete, and consistent analysis of health education curricula based on the National Health Education Standards and CDC’s Characteristics of an Effective Health Education. These lessons are free and downloadable.
Confident Me Middle School Curriculum
The Confident Me curriculum allows teachers and students to explore the impact that “appearance ideals” in the media have on young people’s self-esteem. The lessons provide strategies to protect and build self-confidence.
Five Session Workshop
The 5-Session Workshop is created to be delivered in five 50-minute class periods and covers more material in greater depth. It is directed at a middle school audience where these lessons may be the kids’ first introduction to a body image discussion.
Single Session Workshop
The Single Session Workshop is designed to be covered in one 50-minute class, and is fitting for older students who can keep up with a faster pace. The Single Session Workshop is a good refresher class for those who have had some body image discussion before.
Free Being Me was developed as a partnership between the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the Dove Self-Esteem Project, and body confidence experts. Free Being Me is available at no cost and in many languages. Online resources include a Leader’s Pack, Activity Packs and Action on Body Confidence Packs for the two age-based versions of the program (7-10 year olds and 11-14 year olds), and E-learning resources. The program consists of five sessions that are centered on developing the skills needed to resist pressures to conform to society’s appearance ideals, and generate creative ways to promote body confidence messages in their community.
Free Being Me is appropriate for girl-only groups as well as mixed groups. If used within the context of Girl Guides or Girl Scouts, there is a badge available for those who complete the program as well as a Take Action Project.
REbeL is an innovative, evidence-based curriculum for use in high school (and can be adapted for use in middle school or college). This curriculum was developed by a clinical psychologist with significant input from dietitians, teachers, and high school students themselves. It can be incorporated into classroom instruction or used as the foundation for a school-based club/organization. REbeL aims to create a safe space for students to talk about media, body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and bullying. It encourages students to create positive change through activism in the school and community.
REbeL is a 12-session curriculum ideal for an after-school club utilizing student leaders. The sessions can also be individually adapted for use in the classroom. No advanced training is required and the curriculum is a free resource.
The Body Positive is a nonprofit organization with the goal of ending the harmful consequences of body dissatisfaction. Their “Be Body Positive Model” is based on the philosophy that self-love and body appreciation are at the root of living healthfully in our bodies, and includes five core competencies:
- Reclaim Health
- Practice Intuitive Self-Care
- Cultivate Self-Love
- Declare Your Own Authentic Beauty
- Build Community
The Body Positive curriculum is created for delivery by trained facilitators.The “Be Body Positive Facilitator Training” is an online course that includes more than 25 videos and webinars along with handouts, worksheets, assignments, and monthly cohort calls. The training was designed with both educators and student leaders in mind.
The Body Project curriculum was created to help people at risk for developing an eating disorder. The National Eating Disorders Association administers The Body Project training and curriculum. The program aims to increase body acceptance and reduce disordered eating symptoms as well as to create an environment that encourages healthy thinking around food and body. The Body Project’s objectives are to:
- Define the “appearance ideal” and explore its origin
- Examine the costs of pursuing this ideal
- Explore ways to resist pressures to conform to unrealistic standards of beauty
- Discuss how to challenge personal body-related concerns
- Learn new ways to talk more positively about our bodies
- Talk about how we can best respond to future pressures to conform to societal standards of beauty
The Body Project is supported by more research than any other body image program. It was developed by researchers at Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Oregon Research Institute. An in-person training session is required in order to facilitate The Body Project. Contact NEDA to inquire about training.