What a Teacher can do to be Body Positive

What a Teacher can do to be Body Positive

Teenagers tell us body image is of one of their biggest concerns. Having positive body image means you respect your body whatever shape, size and colour it may be. Here are three things teachers (and parents) can do to nurture positive body image in the classroom.

1. Be a good role model

When you enjoy what your body can do you’re more likely to feel good about your body. You are more likely to care for it, both at work and in your personal life. If students see teachers role model this self-kindness, hopefully they treat their own bodies in the same way. It’s a win-win!

2. Choose your words

To foster positive body image in students, focus on speaking kindly about:

  • Your own body.
  • Students’ bodies.
  • Other people’s bodies.

3. Have a shared vision (or position) as a school

Think about the following values. We do our best to:

  • Treat ourselves and others with compassion
  • Focus on non-physical strengths, skills and qualities in ourselves and others, rather than on appearance. For example, “you are a great friend and support to your peers”.
  • Skip the body talk. We especially avoid talking about weight or shape while at school – we never know who is listening.
  • Remember that all students, regardless of their shape or size can benefit from eating well and moving regularly. Focusing on weight can make students feel self-conscious and embarrassed, which can mean they become less likely to care for their body.
  • Speak up if comments or nicknames are based on appearance. These are not okay.
  • Talk about being active for enjoyment and socialising, rather than as a chore or a way of changing the shape or size of our body.
  • Shift focus away from social media as a ‘norm’ or source of realistic information.
  • Seek appropriate supports for people who need it, as early as possible.

It might be useful to reflect on these values in a staff meeting or, as a group, come up with your own set of core values to guide you in your school.

Remember it takes time

Loving your own body can be a work in progress. The way you feel about it may change from day to day, but you can choose to always show yourself compassion and speak with respect. Try focusing on what your body can do, whatever that is, rather than what it looks like.

It is important to ask for help

If you need assistance for yourself or a student, visit the Butterfly Foundation for helpline details and resources.