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Positive body talk
The potential negative effects of beating ourselves and others up about our bodies through negative body talk. TV personalities Melissa Suffield (Lucy Beale from Eastenders) and Radzi Chinyanganya (the lightest contender who ever appeared on the show Gladiators), conduct their 'bright body talk test' at a secondary school in Bristol. The test bans negative body comments and encourages young people to emphasise their positive qualities. The presenters also make us aware of how common it is for people to engage in body bullying directed at ourselves, and how this might affect our body image. This questions whether the banning of negative body talk improves the way that young people feel about themselves.First broadcast in the Learning Zone as part of the Your Body Your Image series in December 2012.
Can be used in PSHE classes to make young people aware of the damage that negative body talk about themselves and others can have. Studies show that when young girls engage in 'fat talk' with their friends, it increases their body dissatisfaction and that young boys who have increased conversations about appearance and muscularity are more likely to have a negative body image. Students can be challenged with enabling themselves with the power to change this culture. Opportunities for discussion and activities in class include:
1. Brainstorm reasons why people shouldn't compare their appearance with others or celebrities in the media (ie influence of genetics and use of image manipulation in the media)
2. Generate examples of body talk with the class, then ask the students (in pairs/ groups) to come up with strategies to stop this sort of talk with their peers. Share strategies with the class and challenge to use these examples.
3. Using role-plays or written scenarios, explore alternative endings. Studies show that teasing others about their body can have lasting negative effects. The class can brainstorm what the potential positive impact of stopping this behaviour might have on themselves, their peers, the school, the country and around the world.
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