RSE KS2: Body Image - What is perfect?

Children from across the UK pose questions to trusted adults about body image and the nature of 'perfect'.

In this short film you will see small groups of children ask questions on behalf of their peers to adults they trust.

Questions covered are:

  • What is meant by a body image?
  • Why do people feel like they have to wear makeup?
  • Do some people want to get plastic surgery to have body parts bigger or smaller?
  • Is anyone perfect?

The adult’s answers are not scripted or prepared – the video features authentic, unrehearsed responses to a variety of questions.

The issues raised are real life concerns from children aged 9 -12 which were generated through RSE workshops facilitated by professional workshop facilitators.

The content acts as stimulus material for teachers to prompt discussions around related topics.

It shows how to deal with sensitive subjects in an age-appropriate, open and honest way.

The peer-based learning approach encourages students to think for themselves and to pose questions using their own language.

The video encourages children to find answers to actual questions and to gain a balanced view of these important issues.

This short film has been made in consultation with PSHE subject experts and teachers.

Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, we strongly advise teacher viewing before watching with your pupils.

Teacher Notes

Before watching the film

This short film is produced with 9-12 year olds in mind, however always make yourself familiar with the content and consider carefully whether it will be appropriate and of use for your specific cohort.

Remember to check through the current statutory guidance from your government.

This will give you a good overarching view of the content you need to be covering in your sessions.

Check your school policies to make sure you follow school guidelines and talk to a member of the SLT if in doubt about anything.

Check to see if any of your class have any child protection issues or are vulnerable children.

Also consider thoroughly any SEN (Special Educational Needs) and whether this short film is the best resource to use with every child in your class.

Once you are confident it is the right resource for your pupils, watch it through alone and consider how it would work best for you all.

Watch the teacher support film with PSHE Specialist, Kate Daniels, for further support and tips for using these resources.

Finally, consider carrying out an initial assessment in order to pitch your lessons correctly.

This is highly recommended as it will give you a clear snapshot of your pupils’ understanding and, by assessing at the end of the lesson/lessons, you will also get a clear picture of the impact of your lesson/lessons and good insight into what pupils have learnt and what areas they will need more support with.

Using the film

This can be used as a starter, a focus in the main part of your lesson or in the plenary - think about what works for you and each specific cohort.

However you decide to use this short film, always set up a working agreement with the class at the beginning of the lesson to create a list of ground rules so everyone feels safe and able to talk and join in discussions without being judged. Remember to include a reminder to talk to a trusted adult if anything in the film makes your pupils feel worried or uncomfortable.

As the film is all about discussion and talking it lends itself well to supporting quality discussion in and with your class.

Discussion ideas:

  • The title of the film – ‘What is perfect?’
  • The questions from the film – What is meant by a body image? Why do people feel like they have to wear makeup? Do some people want to get plastic surgery to have body parts bigger or smaller? Is anyone perfect?
  • Definitions and ideas about what image is.
  • Definitions and ideas about what body image is.
  • Questions generated directly (possibly anonymously as in these films) during the lesson, from your pupils.

Whatever you choose, encourage lots of open discussion - paired, group and/or as whole class - write any ideas up on a flip chart or smart board so you can use or refer back to these in this or any other lesson.

Activity ideas:

  • Art - Exhibition celebrating the beauty of diversity in all its forms (could be focused on body image).
  • Projects - How bodies are designed so incredibly for certain environments and lifestyles (humans and/or animals).
  • Descriptive writing – Exploring the idea of perfection.
  • Music – Exploring the concept of ‘perfect imperfectness’ through sound.

Whatever you choose, always allow enough time to clarify any misunderstanding, answer any questions that have been unanswered, and give pupils time for quiet reflection at the end.

Always check in with the group before they leave and remind them of their working agreement.

Consolidate the importance (and value) of talking to someone they trust if anything they have seen or discussed has made them feel uncomfortable. Include signposting – both in school and outside on where they can get further support or information (e.g. ChildLine).

Following on

Assessment – Complete an assessment to see what your pupils have learnt and what their gaps are.

Feed this into your planning for future lessons.

There are eight other films in this series which focus on different RSE topics.

You could continue to use these across a few lessons/weeks, if timetabling allows, addressing each film topic.

Curriculum Notes

These short films were created in consultation with a PSHE education expert and are designed for teachers for use with children aged 9-12. Teachers can use them to complement:

  • The upper KS2 RSE National Curriculum teaching requirement in England.
  • The Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland; specifically relationships, sexual health and parenthood education in school Level 2.
  • The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessments in Northern Ireland.
  • Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and the KS2 Welsh Curriculum.