Girls, Body Image, and the School Setting: An Exploratory Study

by Gaudet, Gail Judy

Abstract (Summary)
The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the knowledge and experiences of school counsellors, teachers, and school-based personnel in the area of girls body image. Participants perspectives were described and implications identified for ways in which teachers can encourage positive body image for girls in their classrooms. The idea for this research evolved from my interest in positive self-esteem, and academic and social success. As a teacher, I find that girls (more so than boys) base their success on body image. Girls often turn to harmful health behaviours such as disordered eating or excessive exercise because of dissatisfaction with their bodies (Tiggemann, 2005; ODea, 2000). I hoped to find ways for teachers to foster positive body image, and I believed school counsellors, teachers, and school-based personnel would be a useful source of information on this topic. I brought to this research a desire to hear, understand, and make meaning from these professionals experiences of working with girls.

There are a variety of things a teacher can do to create a positive environment in the school setting relating to body image. Focus group participants felt teachers and other school personnel could:

(a) openly allow body image discussion in the classrooms either through Talking Circles or Body Talk;

(b) promote active lifestyles;

(c) promote healthy eating habits; and

(d) act as role models by modelling the right examples.

Listening and encouraging students can also create a positive environment. The normal development of bodies should be discussed openly in the classrooms. In order to help create positive body images in young girls, participants believed it was important for teachers and school personnel to: participate in empathy training (learning to talk to each other and to listen to each other), educate parents; train physical education teachers; encourage students to write daily journals and critically analyze media literacy.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Nicol, Jennifer; McIntyre, Laureen; Kalyn, Brenda; Martin, Stephanie

School:University of Saskatchewan

School Location:Canada - Saskatchewan

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:body image disordered eating disorders dissatisfaction


Date of Publication:12/04/2007

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