Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Interview - Media's effect on female perception

June's article outlines our interview, in which we responded to 7 questions, posed by a university student:

1. Do you believe women are portrayed in a negative way in print advertising?

2. Do you believe women are perceived in an unrealistic way in glossy magazine advertisements?

3. Do you believe the field of advertisement is male dominated where female are victim of popular culture?

4. Do you believe young females see the models in advertisements as role models?

5. Do you believe advertisements help create unhealthy lifestyle habits for young females and women?

6. Do you believe advertisements in magazines use undignified images of females as medium to persuade an audience to purchase products?

7. Do you believe the images of women in advertisements influence young women to aspire to look like the ‘Ideal women’ the media tries to portray?




Friday, August 16, 2013

Body image quiz results

During the summer term we delivered our Body Image Workshop to over 800 pupils.

In each workshop we asked pupils to complete a body image quiz.

We then analyzed a random sample of 200 forms, to determine the answers to the question that asked them to list '3 things that they loved about their body'.

Results (things they loved about their body):

0 (zero)

69 pupils (34.5%)
Most common: blank or Nothing

18 pupils (9%)
Most common: Eyes, height and hair

21 pupils (10.5%)
Most common: As one above plus legs.

92 pupils (46%)
Most common: As 2 above plus body, weight and looks.

With only 56.5% of pupils identifying 2 or 3 things that they loved about themselves and over a third (34.5%), not listing anything at all; there is clearly more body image related work for us, parents and schools to do.



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

PSHE workshop discussion

I’m sure you have all been in a position where a child says something; something in which their level of maturity and insight takes you by surprise.

This is the situation I found myself in last week when delivering a workshop to a group of year 7’s in a West Midlands school. The workshop formed part of their PSHE day, in which our Body Image Workshop was one of the day’s activities.

The discussion centred on the influence of the media, and whether or not the media held any responsibility for individuals developing negative body image.

During the session I proposed the following statement from the media’s point of view:

“We don’t make people ill any more than a manufacturer of champagne makes someone an alcoholic.” [Patrick Strudwick - Head of Features and Diet New Magazine 2008] 

A male pupil (in the mixed sex class) contemplated the statement seriously for a moment and then replied:

“I disagree Miss, because when someone buys alcohol they know what they are getting. They know that alcohol can harm their bodies if they drink too much and become an alcoholic.

"With the media it is different. When you buy a magazine you might not know how much of it has been airbrushed and how much of what they show you is not real. So if people get a bad body image because the media is not telling the truth, then it’s the media’s fault.

"The person who bought the magazine not did not make a knowledgeable choice; not in the same way that the person who bought alcohol made a choice”.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Body image questions and answers

In this article, we respond to a set of final year dissertation questions (11 in total) posed by a  journalism student studying at a Scottish university

 1) Given the amount of pressure women feel over their body image and appearance do you feel feminism remains a relevant cause in today's society?

For me, feminism is about gender equality. It is about improving the lives of girls and women, by advancing their social, educational, economic and political power; social justice in essence. It is also about giving females choices and empowering and equipping them to improve their overall situation.

In response to your question, I think feminism is still a very relevant cause. The pressures related to body image and appearance is clearly another huge issue that girls and women must face, adjust to and overcome.

Read Q&A



Wednesday, July 04, 2012

What is beauty?

School hall where the Body Image workshop took place. The girls were seated in groups of four.

“If you type the words ‘beautiful women’ into Google,” I said to a group of year 10 public school girls, “the following results will be returned.” After giving the group time to view and think about the contents of the page, I asked.

“What is beauty?”

“I think that beauty is inside”, said a confident girl on my left. Before she could continue the room was filled with agreeable sighs, ahs and even sporadic applause. After a short pause and embarrassed laugh, she continued.

“But… in the world we live, everyone sees beauty as the way we look.”

“Thank you”, I replied before asking, “anyone else?

“Everyone compares themselves to everybody else, but beauty is what you are inside”, said another pupil.

“Is beauty within”? I asked.

“I want that to be true”, said a voice from the back, “but I don’t think it’s actually true. Most people think that beauty is the way you look … really”.

“What we are inside is important”, she continued, “but I don’t think most people think beauty is on the inside”. This statement was greeted with agreeing nods and supporting murmurs. “I just thought that I’d say it”, she ended.

“If you know someone”, commented another pupil, “then it is possible to say that they beautiful, because you know what they are like. If you don’t know someone, you only call them beautiful if you are talking about how they look”.

From here the conversation moved on to wider discussions about beauty in our society.

Later, reflecting on the workshop, I was pleased that everyone in the group was thinking deeply about the subject matter and were giving well thought out articulate responses.

NB. The workshop program has ended.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pupil Referral Unit

“You’ve fallen in love with a pixel!” The exclamation was followed by much laughter and merriment from other members of the class.

The outburst took place in a Body Image and Self Esteem workshop, that we ran at a West Midlands Pupil Referral Unit, earlier this week.

The statement had come from a year 11 male pupil with autism. His outburst, was in response to a teaching assistant's (male) comment that he found airbrushed pictures more attractive than natural ones.

The vocal pupil wasn’t the only one determined to remark on the honest comment.

"Natural beauty is better, because it’s real “, insisted a girl in the far corner; words that the girls in her group echoed.

For a while, behavioural, mental and physical issues were mostly forgotten as discussions on body image, self esteem, the media & advertising, beauty and weight captured the classes attention.

When talking about weight issues one girl said, "some poor people can't afford  to buy healthy food. Fattening food is cheaper so being fat isn't totally their fault".  

The fact that the workshop was talking place in a Pupil Referral Unit with several teaching assistants (who all took part) in attendance, changed the usual workshop dynamics and made for some interesting assistant/pupil dialogue.

One thing is clear. Children, however diverse, want to be heard.

We appreciate the opportunity to listen.  



Monday, November 28, 2011

KS3 Body Image Discussion

Below are a few comments (pupils) from last Friday's all female KS3 Body Image & Self Esteem Workshop. They are taken from the segment of the workshop, during which we were discussing the Media.

General discussion:

“I think the media is giving people what they want. I don’t want to be obese and I don’t want to see obese people in magazines; it’s unhealthy. I want to see beautiful people and nice things”.

"I think media images are of real people, but they are hidden underneath loads of makeup".

In response to the question "Does the media reflect or direct society?"

"The media reflects a very distorted view of society. Real people are not like the people we see in magazines".  

"I think the media both reflects and directs society. If it didn’t reflect it, people wouldn’t be able to relate to it. It also directs it, because people want to be like what they see in the media".

"I think the media directs society. Everyone copies celebrities and want to look like the pictures they see in magazines".  

For me, the quote of the day came from a year nine pupil. “I know that media images are not real", she said. "I keep telling myself that, but its exhausting to have to try so hard".



Monday, October 24, 2011

Diversity at a London Academy

On Thursday, my Body Beautiful took part in a ‘diversity’ day at a large London secondary academy.

Our Body Image workshop was one of several workshops that together embraced a number of topics including faith, identity, sex and sexuality.

It was inspiring to see the lengths the academy had gone to, in order to educate pupils about diversity, under the PSHE banner.

My Body Beautiful had the privilege of teaching and interacting with 150 pupils in 5 separate body image workshops.

The day was memorable for many reasons. For me, the highlight of the day was meeting a pupil (who had attended one of our workshops) as I made my way to the tube station. She went to the trouble of approaching me (much to my surprise), in order to tell me how much she had enjoyed the workshop. 

 NB. The workshop program has ended.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thought provoking discussions

One of the best things about working for My Body Beautiful is that it gives us the opportunity to meet an array of teenage boys and girls. Each encounter, whether it’s with a small group or a large class of 30 pupils, enriches our understanding of what’s important to today’s teens. Not only the issues that affect them, but also how they see their role in society and how they perceive and respond to the unquestionable pressures that modern teens face.

Last week, during a year 11 Body Image workshop, I asked the group of girls what advice they would give to a girl suffering from body image issues (excerpt from a case study).

Most girls offered consoling words and advice about self acceptance, not unfavourably comparing herself with media images .... ...

Moving around, I stopped at another group and asked for their thoughts.

“I’d tell her to get a grip”, said an unequivocal voice. I looked at the solemn face and into a pair of sincere eyes and gently asked her to further explain her comment. “Well”, she replied thoughtfully. “She is allowing her self to wallow in self pity. She needs to get a grip”!

Her words immediately changed the mood of the workshop and a heated discussion ensued. The next few minutes were very stimulating, as the other pupils verbally supported or opposed her viewpoint.

When things had quietened down,  I responded to her words and said, “I can see why you say that … …”

At the end of the workshop, I felt both happy and privileged to have been involved in such thought provoking discussions; discussions that I hope will positively influence their lives.