What is “body diversity”?

Through media and advertising, young people are more than ever before exposed to images of stringy or musclebound bodies. These models, which do not represent the vast majority of bodies, lead many young people to feel dissatisfied with their own bodies. Exposure to these images makes it easy to forget that we’re not all cut from the same mould, which makes it harder to develop a positive body image and self esteem. It’s important to remember that people always have and always will come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Below are a few messages you can share to create an environment that encourages youths at your summer camp to adopt healthy habits and a positive body image:

  • Remind everyone that beauty standards vary across eras, cultures, and personal preferences by showing images with examples.
  • The concept of beauty changes (e.g., according to era, geographical location, personal preferences). That means it’s very important to challenge the notion of “ideal beauty”. Media representations of bodies are drifting further and further from natural figures and diversity. It’s as if we expect bodies to adapt to fashion rather than vice-versa.
  • Make a distinction between outward appearance and who we are inside.
  • Everyone’s body is different and unique.
  • There’s no sense in comparing, because we’re all different.

To explore this topic further, see the Shape Up documents available in the Members area.

To really encourage the acceptance of body diversity, we must prohibit and denounce negative comments on appearance, even if they’re made in jest.

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