Body confidence is such a difficult area for many teen girls. They consistently face digitally altered images which present impossibly perfect girls and women. And as we know this can impact girls’ self-worth, as they use these fake images as a measuring stick to their changing bodies –impacting their confidence, and often distracting them in class. This article shows how the Body Confidence module of the Building Resilience programme encourages girls to change their mindset about their bodies.
During the ‘Body confidence’ workshop it was clear that Sara* was finding it difficult to find a way to think positively about her body. We’d explored as a group the prevalence of digital editing in images. Sara particularly liked the before/after shots of Katy Perry! By understanding that these pictures simply aren’t real Sara was seeing that it wasn’t helpful to compare herself to something that had been generated by a computer. Although she still found it impossible to find things she liked about her body.
The turning point came when our discussion turned to our ‘inner selves’. We first brainstormed all the qualities that we admired in other people, such as kindness, generosity, a good sense of humour and much more. I supported Sara and the other girls in the group to see that actually it is these qualities which define us a people – not the colour of our hair, the shape of our eyebrows or our weight. I could see a penny had dropped for Sara.
As we wrapped up the session, I asked the girls what they would do with what they had learnt about body confidence and Sara shared
“Well if I was talking to a friend, and she said she was fat and hated that about herself, first of all I would tell her that she wasn’t fat, but actually whether she was or wasn’t didn’t really matter, what matters was that she was kind and sensitive and such a good listener, that I knew I could always rely on her as my friend”.
By reflecting this back to the group, Sara shows that she understood that appearance isn’t what defined her as a girl. It’s how we make people feel that really matters.
This is a more sustainable way to support teenage girls to feel better about their appearance and bodies – help them to put it in perspective, and value all the wonderful qualities they have.
If you’re looking for a programme that builds resilience and personal skills, enabling teen girls to progress both personally and academically, find out about the availability of the Building resilience programme by contacting Caroline Walker on firstname.lastname@example.org
(* name changed)