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how can middle and high school health curriculums incorporate positive psychology to better cultivate positive body image?

Testa, Ginelle. “The Truth About Body-Positive Activists on Social Media.” Tiny Buddha, 27 Aug. 2019, tinybuddha.com/blog/the-truth-about-body-positive-activists-on-social-media/.

Intro Video

 

Background

        Body image, or the “perception that a person of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception”, is something almost everyone struggles with (Damea, et al.). About 80% of elementary schoolers said they worry about their weight (Stein). At any time, almost 50% of Americans are dieting to lose weight (Kater). 78% of 17 year old girls are unhappy with their bodies (Gallivan). In today’s society, young people are feeling even more pressure to fit the ideal body mold, but under 5% of women can, from a genetic standpoint, fit into sample size clothing (Stein).

Personal Connection

        I remember loving my health class, especially in 9th grade, but wished the discussion around body image was more substantial. I remember talking briefly about eating disorders, but not at all about negative body image, and how pervasive it is in today’s society. Recently, there have been many new curricula developed to discuss body image that go in depth on many crucial topics, like critically viewing media, healthy eating and the truth about dieting, and genetics. However, the one thing I consistently found was missing in these otherwise fabulous class curricula were different ways to help students cultivate a positive body image for themselves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mP5RveA_tk

 

Positive Psychology Connection

        Practicing positive psychology, especially positive thinking and mindfulness, has been shown to help people of all ages cultivate a more positive body image (Ackerman). So, for my project, I wanted to compile a list of body image and self-esteem focused practices that health teachers could teach their students, as well as a list of some organizations and course curricula that are able to successfully teach about body image. I chose not to design my own curriculum as there are so many great ones out there, and a good class should be tailored by the teacher specifically for their students. 

 

What Can You Do?

  • Engage in some of these positive psychology practices!
  • Pay attention to the comments you make about your own body and the bodies of others.
  • Notice how you and those around you discuss dieting and appearance, and try to change the conversation if it is problematic.
  • Be respectful 🙂

Please comment below! I’d love to hear your experiences and your feedback on my project. Let me know if you tried any of the positive psychology practices and what you thought of them!

 

Works Cited

Ackerman, Courtney. “3 Positive Body Image Activities & Worksheets.” PositivePsychology.com, 10 Oct. 2019, positivepsychology.com/positive-body-image/.

Damea, et al. “What Is Body Image?” PsychAlive, 21 Aug. 2015, www.psychalive.org/what-is-body-image/.

Gallivan, Heather. “Teens, Social Media And Body Image.” Park Nicollet Melrose Center, 2014.

Kater, Kathy. “Healthy Bodies Curriculum: Teaching Kids What They Need to Know.” Body Image Health, 2012, bodyimagehealth.org/healthy-bodies-curriculum/.

“Meditation for a Healthy Body Image.” Headspace, 2020, www.headspace.com/meditation/body-positivity.

Stein, Mary, and Katie Bark. “Your Own Healthy Style: A Middle-School Curriculum to Enhance Body Image .” Department of Health and Human Development, Montana State University , May 2006.

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COMMENTS: 16
  1. April 23, 2020 by Jaya

    Hey Gayatri! I absolutely love this project. The video you added was very impactful and very inspirational to me. I tried writing positive things about my body for five minutes, which was great. It really started my day thinking positively about myself! I think throughout the week I will try replacing my negative thoughts and see how that rewires my thinking!

    • April 27, 2020 by Gayatri

      Hi Jaya! Thank you so much, I’m so glad you tried some of the techniques!

  2. April 24, 2020 by Charlotte

    Hi Gayatri! I think your project has a really beautiful message and the way you constructed it was great, as you provided a level of awareness in connection to steps one can take on their own personal journey to body confidence. The video you choose really resonated with me, just the young age of the girls in combination with them talking about exact things I have thought about my own body made me realize we are all in this together and each struggle with different insecurities. I hope to look into some of your positive recommendations and thank you for your presentation!
    – Charlotte

    • April 27, 2020 by Gayatri

      Hi Charlotte! Thank you, I’m happy the video was able to make you feel less alone 🙂

  3. April 24, 2020 by Katie

    Hi Gayatri,
    I really like the list of activities you complied for this project. I think the wide range of options makes it really helpful for so many people. Great job!

  4. April 24, 2020 by Lola

    Hi Gayatri! I love this presentation, I think this is an issue currently that is bigger than anyone knows! I don’t know one girl that hasn’t been insecure about their body. I like your slide “body scan” I think that would help people not look at themselves to quickly and judge all the “bad” things they’re insecure about.
    Thank you for raising awareness to this issue!

  5. April 24, 2020 by Emmy

    Hi Gayatri!
    I love how you incorporated more practical ways to promote a more positive body image, such as journaling and reflection. Everyone is capable of doing this and I am a huge believer in making small changes to make a big difference in my life.

  6. April 24, 2020 by Anna

    Hey Gayatri, this is a very good project and I actually did something similar. I was looking at eating disorders in athletes and a lot of that branches of of body image. I liked your slideshow with recommendations and all of the mindfulness activities. I think positivity and mindfulness is very helpful with body image. I also think that there could be a big improvement in the health classes provided in schools and i think body image needs to be an aspect of that class required for all students. great job!

    • April 27, 2020 by Gayatri

      Hi Anna! Oh wow that’s so interesting. Thank you so much!

  7. April 24, 2020 by Charlotte

    Hi Gayatri! I really like how you talked about how eating disorders are commonly discussed in high schools, but when it comes to any other topics relating to body image no one ever seems to say anything meaningful! I think that paying attention to the ways that we are portraying our own body image and that of others is definitely the most important step we can take to make a difference!

  8. April 25, 2020 by Molly

    Hi Gayatri! I really liked your project! I love how you talked about different ways to promote a more positive way of looking at your body, which I think are all things that girls growing up need to learn how to do. I have watched the youtube video that you put in before and it is really impactful on this subject. Great job!

  9. April 25, 2020 by Elaine

    Hello Gayatri! I think you did a really good job of finding a simple response for such a prevalent problem. Additionally, your video adds a lot because we’re hearing personal struggles that allow us to empathize more with this topic. It’s also really shocking because some of the girls are so young but it’s clear they’ve been struggling for a long time. I will definitely start following the positive psychology practices that you offered. For example, I’ve never done mindful eating before, so I think I might try that today.

    • April 27, 2020 by Gayatri

      Hello Elaine! Thank you so much for taking the time to look through my project! Let me know what you thought of mindful eating.

  10. April 26, 2020 by Madison Seda

    Hi Gayatri!
    I really adore this presentation, and the thought you put into your slides as well. I watched the video you embedded, and it really opened my eyes at how so many different types of people can feel the same way about themselves. As someone who struggles with an eating disorder, I wish schools would implement more body positivity (or at least in my school). I’ve never thought about journaling and mindful eating before, and will definitely try those methods for myself and recommend them to friends who may want to. Great job!
    – Madison

    • April 27, 2020 by Gayatri

      Hi Madison! Thank you so much. I totally agree, and I hope these practices come in handy.

  11. April 26, 2020 by Lara

    Hello Gayatri! I loved your project! Your resources were very helpful, and I really enjoyed the video that you shared; I feel like it gave a personal perspective on body image that didn’t come from people who necessarily suffered from an eating disorder. This helps people relate more to the opinions and it helps them not feel as alone in their insecurities. I feel like knowing someone out there is going through the same thing helps he want to have a better body image because you know you’re not the only one struggling

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