Body image

Lesson powerpoint here

1. Body image.

  • Ask students to write down 5 reasons why they love their body: they should focus on things that their body is (e.g. flexible, mobile, complex, mysterious, intelligent), or things their body enables them to do, rather than the way their body looks. Ask them to fold the paper over and keep the 5 reasons to themselves.
  • Show students the 2 slides on the lesson powerpoint explaining what body image is and what happens when it becomes distorted.
  • Show students the slide with the quote from Iain McGilchrist. Do students agree with what he says about people seeing their body as a thing?

2. Thinking about body image messages.

  • Play the two videos on messages about body image: this one about girls; this one about boys.
  • What are messages about body image? Ask students to think about the messages about body image that they encounter amongst peers and in the media and then put them into 5 categories as follows ‘perfection’, ‘size’, ‘shape’, ‘dieting’, ‘exercise’.
  • Ask students to discuss the effect of these messages upon us in small groups. How do they affect our feelings, our behaviour, our health, our friendships and relationships? Are the effects different for boys and for girls?
  • Feedback discussion points as a class.
  • Ask students to speculate about whether or not there would have been body image problems before TV, advertising, magazines and why.
  • Feedback.

3. Responding to messages about body image.

  • Intentions. Ask students to look at the slide with the question ‘why do I want to be more muscly, curvier, slimmer, less wrinkly, shaved…’ Ask them to discuss what are healthy/good intentions for changing the body and less healthy intentions for changing the body.
  • Feedback.
  • Happiness. Show students the slide with ‘I will be happier if…’ on it. Ask them to discuss which of the 12 squares would make them happy in small groups.
  • Feedback and show them the Julia Annas quote on the slides about the circumstances of a life and the living of a life. What do they think about this idea: that happiness lies not in things we have, but in the way we live our lives?
  • Strategies. Take students through the slides with suggestions about how to counteract unhealthy messages about body image. Do they agree or disagree with them?


  • Notice the messages about body image in the world around you. Write about the effect they have.
  • Think about your 5 reasons for loving your body. Write about how your body helps you to fulfil your human potential.