What is Body Image?
Body image is a person’s inner perception of their own body*. Body image includes physical appearance, such as weight, height, facial features, physical maturation, race and ethnicity, other diverse body features, as well as abilities. (Tompson, Heinberg, Altabe, Teanteleff-Dunn, 1999)
Why Be Concerned About Body Image?
Negative body image may result in:
In 2004, ETFO released the results of a major research study on body image. The study was conducted for ETFO by Dr. June Larkin, Program Director, Equity Studies Centre, Institute for Women’s Studies and Gender Studies, , and Dr. Carla Rice, Clinical Program Specialist, Body Image Project, Regional Women’s Health Centre, Sunnybook and Women’s . The study looked at the international literature on body image and recommended ways in which ETFO could address the issue in elementary schools.
The research found that:
More recent research has confirmed those initial concerns, showing that girls indicate body dissatisfaction at many different stages of their lives. As well, OISE/UT professor Dr. Lorayne Dunlop-Robertson worked with ETFO to conduct feedback interviews at the schools where the project was tested. She conducted further research to respond to the interview findings, which confirmed what was known about girls and revealed that body image is a significant issue for boys also. Dissatisfaction with their bodies appears to be connected to boys’ ideas about masculinity and sports, and that boys feel pressure to be thin, muscular, and tall.
Curriculum Addresses Body Image
The research has resulted in a comprehensive, field-tested, grades 1 to 8 curriculum Reflections of Me: The ETFO Body Image Project. While many teachers integrate it into the language arts curriculum, it can be integrated into other areas of the elementary school program. Reflections of Me is most effective when implemented as a whole-school project.
The curriculum focuses on different themes for different age groups:
Parents Can Help
Parents play key roles in shaping their children’s perceptions of their bodies, and can help by:
ETFO Resources Available
Reflections of Me: The ETFO Body Image Project kit includes a video, curriculum for each grade level, and a brochure for parents.
For a copy of ETFO’s body image brochure, click on Body Image Brochure.
For more information on Reflections of Me: The ETFO Body Image Project, contact Janet Millar Grant, firstname.lastname@example.org at 416-962-3836 or 1-888-838-3836.