CURRICULUM RESOURCES

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.

Young Children

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.

Confident Body, Confident Child (CBCC) is an evidence-based resource for parents of children aged two to six years old. CCBC includes an education program and information-filled website.

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.

Elementary School

In elementary school, we begin to see a progressive uptick in dieting, the drive for thinness, and body dissatisfaction (in girls especially). Thirty-five percent of 6-year-old girls have engaged in dieting behavior, and 40% want to be thinner. By the time girls are 10 years old, an overwhelming majority (81%) fear being fat!

While historically body image research has focused on girls, boys are struggling as well. More than 25% of young boys express concern with muscularity and leanness, wishing for more defined muscles. These body concerns are not to be taken lightly. They prevent our kids from taking part in activities, speaking up in class, assuming leadership roles, and of critical importance, these behaviors are risk factors for eating disorders.

The elementary school classroom provides an opportunity to educate children on nutrition, movement, and their bodies in a way that will promote body confidence and serve their health–both mental and physical– throughout life. We recommend the Healthy Bodies curriculum as a great option for use in elementary school.

Healthy Bodies was published in conjunction with the National Eating Disorders Association and is specifically intended for use in the school setting. The curriculum contains 11 engaging lessons scripted with activities that teach children to:

  • Maintain a mindful connection to their bodies
  • Develop an identity based on who they are rather than how they look
  • Reject weight stigma and respect genetic divesity of body size and shape
  • Understand how appearance changes with puberty
  • Defend against unhealthy cultural pressures regarding looks, weight, food choices, and dieting
  • Choose positive role models that support their deeper values
  • Actively embrace health through positive eating and physical activity
  • Support each other in having a healthy body image, eating well, and staying active

The lessons were originally written for children in fourth through sixth grades, however, the concepts are not grade-specific and can be used with younger and older students as well. The Healthy Bodies curriculum is available as a published manual that includes necessary background education, lesson plans, handouts, home education tools, extensive references, and charts highlighting alignment with the National Health Education Standards.

Middle School

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.

Teachers do not need specific training to use this material; it was created to be self-explanatory. We recommend going to the Confident Me website where DSEP has created worthwhile 3 minute videos with tips for teachers.

High School

By the high school years, body dissatisfaction is a “normative discontent”–the norm is to be unhappy with one’s body! This is especially true for adolescent girls, where upwards of 90% dislike their bodies and appearance in high school. Just because body dissatisfaction is “normal” doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

As teens gain independence and begin to make choices that impact their futures, we need to help them navigate the challenging environment around food, their bodies, the fitness industry, and social media. Through modeling and education, we can empower teens to make choices that serve them well in a challenging culture.

The young people we meet today have great potential to change our world for the better. But they won’t be able to reach their potential if they are distracted for hours a day with thoughts about their bodies. We’ve created the BE REAL High School Curriculum for high schools to address the appearance-based pressures kids face every day.

BE REAL. High School Curriculum

The BE REAL High School Curriculum is an adaptation of the DSEP’s Confident Me curriculum. DSEP’s Confident Me curriculum is created for middle schoolers. DSEP recommends that high school teachers can adapt it for their students. We’ve taken DSEP’s advice, and created an adaption for high school teachers. We’ve chosen the pieces we believe are best suited for this age group. This high school curriculum is created with the input of high school kinetic wellness teachers. It has four lessons;

  • Appearance Ideals
  • Media Messages
  • Confronting Comparisons
  • Banishing Body Talk

 

Please email us to request BE REAL’s zip drive with the Lesson Plans, Slides, Worksheets and Classroom Activity.

“The BE REAL high school curriculum addresses a health issue that affects virtually every student in some way.  Both the girls and the boys want to talk about these issues and it is something that we need to have courageous conversations about.  The lessons give students functional knowledge and allow them to practice an essential health skill of analyzing influences on one’s health.”

Andrew Horne
Kinetic Wellness Teacher, Coach Girls Golf
New Trier High School, Winnetka, IL

After School

It is not always possible to devote enough time to the topic of body image in school, due to curriculum requirements. Many students would benefit from an increased focus on preventing body dissatisfaction.

These programs can be implemented in an extracurricular club or as part of a youth group or organization.

Free Being Me

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

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

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.

NEDA’s The Body Project

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.

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