Body image is so crucial in our schooling lives. Body image refers to your perspective of your body’s appearance. These developing brains are wired to care far more about what friends think than almost anything else. So, in the lead-up to school photos, I believe it’s important to address and normalise some of the concerns around body image.

Our young people need clear examples of positive body image around them. This can start with noticing our self-talk, having open and real conversations on what food does and how it fuels our brain and body and how exercise is not a punishment for poor food choices but rather, a celebration of what our bodies can do.

Here are some things that we can do to improve our body image, or even start a conversation around body image:

  1. Identify those negative thoughts. We all have them, but are you aware of them? Or how often you’re thinking them?
  2. Appreciate what your body can do. If you’re reading this, that tells me you can breathe… appreciate that! Did you know your lungs are the biggest waste removal engine in the body, removing up to 70% of body waste! Psychologists have found that breathing practice is effective in fighting anxiety, depression, and stress. Physiological evidence has indicated that even a single breathing practice significantly reduces blood pressure. Start to cultivate gratitude for your body’s ability.
  3. Do something nice for yourself. This doesn’t need to be anything huge; I recognise that we all have different amounts of time available in our day, however, this could be something as small as eating a meal outside or going for a walk.
  4. Be diligent on social media – challenge what you are seeing. Is it real? Is it an ad? Is it what I need to see right now to promote a healthy body image?
  5. Take care of your body: “The six best doctors are sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise and diet” – Wayne Fields.
  6. Listen to your body. What is your body telling you? Is your jaw tight? Are your shoulders tense? Be in tune with your body, maybe try some stretching or breathing.
  7. Talk to someone. Having someone to hear you without judgement and cheer you on is so important.
  8. Recognise that everybody has bad days and, on those days, think about just one thing non-physical trait you are grateful for or like about yourself.

Now that you know of 8 things you can do to promote better body image, let’s remove some of the known stressors around photo day.

  1. Get your favourite uniform washed and ready. I know you have a favourite!
  2. Plan your morning the night before. Do you need to get up a little earlier to do something different with your hair?
  3. Smile at yourself in the mirror – be proud of yourself and just how wonderful you are!

One last thing from me, a quote from Roald Dahl: “A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts, it will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.

Ebony Harmer

School Counsellor