Though they are by no means the only factor, media representations of weight and body shape are a major element in body image concerns.
Level: Grade K to 3
About the author: Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts
Duration: 10-15 minutes per activity
This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.
Recently our youngest, who is 14, decided she wanted to watch Keeping Up with The Kardashians.
In ancient times the Olympics were a time when all nations – all Greek nations, anyway – would put away their differences and compete in almost every human activity, from poetry to the ferocious no-rules wrestling event called pankration. Being the very best that humans could be was seen as the best way to honour the gods of Olympus. Though we’ve dropped the poetry and the blood sports, people watching the swimming or volleyball events might wonder if we're on the way to bringing back the ancient tradition of competing in the nude. Revealing outfits – like those designed by Lululemon for the Canadian beach volleyball team – may be practical for those events, but they also shine a light on how dressing for sports can make us feel about ourselves. After all, it's hard to feel good about your own body when you've just spent an hour watching the most perfect physiques in the world nearly naked.
The new Ontario Health and Physical Education curriculum released this year by the Ontario Ministry of Education is the first major revision to the subject area in almost 30 years.
Body image concerns have been documented in children as young as three, but it’s adolescents who appear to be most at risk for developing unhealthy attitudes towards their bodies based on this perception.
In this lesson students are introduced to the concept of "avatars" and share their experiences creating and playing avatars in video games and virtual worlds. They then create avatars using a program that is intentionally limited in terms of available body types and gender markers, first creating an avatar of their own gender and then of the opposite gender, and then discuss the program and relate it to representations of gender and body image in games and virtual worlds and in other media. Students then create avatars using a much more flexible version of the program and compare that experience to the more limited version. Finally, students use the more versatile program to create avatars that represent how they see themselves and how they would like others to see them online and reflect on the choices that went into creating them.