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‘Boys have bodies, too: Call for gender inclusive lessons on body image and self-esteem’ by Sam Thomas

The self-esteem of teenage girls could be improved by training teachers to deliver classes in body image, a UK study shows according to a recent article as reported on the BBC News website.

In the pilot study, 261 teenage girls at three secondary schools were given a course of six lessons on body image. This had significant effects on their body image and self-esteem compared with the regular curriculum, say psychologists at King’s College London.

The article omits the body image issues boys and young males face – after all, they have bodies too”, says Sam Thomas, MGEDT Founder and Director. “Only by discussing these issues as a gender inclusive issue, will males feel able to speak up about the insecurities they face and talk about it.”

Dr Helen Sharpe and colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry developed a course on positive body image for teenage girls. The six-part programme focused on ideals of beauty, unhealthy interactions with peers – such as ‘fat talking’, or making negative comments about weight – and practical measures for boosting mood and self-esteem. The course was delivered by teachers in three state-funded girls’ schools. Dr Sharpe told the BBC: “We have tested whether a series of lessons being delivered by teachers to students in school are helpful in improving body esteem – we found this was the case.”

She said the research, published in The British Journal of Psychiatry, showed promise in being able to tackle problems caused by low body esteem, such as eating disorders.

We’re hopeful that as we continue with this research

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we’ll be able to make the programme even more effective and that it could then go on to be effective in reducing disordered eating – things like binge eating and unhelpful weight loss.”.

At MGEDT, we query as to why the focus on self esteem education in relation to body image seems to be focused entirely on young women. Recent surveys have shown that body image issues in males is widely unspoken and eating disorders being on the increase at an alarming rate.

The organisation Young Minds has proposed the introduction of classes on body image for young girls in UK schools; a move which wants to help young women with their self-esteem.

mingle Trend asked the people in the UK is they think this it would be a good idea to train teachers to give body images classes to young women and also whether these classes should be open to young men too.

In the survey, 21% of the UK participants would agree to the idea and 58% stated that young men must also be considered for these lessons. 21% of all Brits asked did not think that body image coaching was a good idea. There is a stark contrast in opinion between men and women; 65% of female participants consider body image lessons to be open to both girls and boys. On the other hand, 51% of men think the lessons would be beneficial to young men too and a further 27% could not envisage teachers talking about body image to be helpful.

As far as the diverse age-groups are concerned, the youngest generation are in most favour of teachers offering all pupils (70%) such body images classes and not excluding young men. 23% of 60-69 years see no need for the classes at all.
Sam adds: “Males with body image issues and/or disordered eating need to know they are not alone. Too often studies have an emphasis on young women’s body issues. In reality, anyone can be affected irrespective of their gender, age or social background. We need to realise and understand that boys and young males are subjected to the same pressures and expectations.

MGEDT is campaigning for body image and self-esteem for boys and girls in primary and secondary education to ensure that both genders receive equal education on the issues.

Body Gossip is working to promote self-esteem and body confidence in schools .

 

Sam Thomas

'Men Get Eating Disorders Too' is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1139351.

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