June 20, 2024

Care Nex

Stay Healthy, Live Happy

Body image and maintaining a positive attitude

3 min read

Mental Health Matters is a series of Surrey Schools articles that highlights issues and challenges identified by our school counsellors and psychologists as ones commonly experienced by students of all ages. Read them all at surreyschools.ca/news.

When it comes to looks and body image, students and youth are influenced by a multitude of sources and can sometimes have strong or confusing feelings about their appearance and how others view them. This can lead to discomfort, anxiousness or feelings of uncertainty or insecurity. 

District school psychologist Sally-Ann Ambrosio says body image is something many youth struggle with, especially in today’s hyper-connected, digitally altered world.

“Kids are now seeing highly edited images and videos on their phones, not just when they watch TV or movies,” she said. “You now have access to influencers and celebrities 24/7 that are always posting about their lifestyle – the happy, shiny version that they want you to see – and giving people the impression that this is what you’re supposed to look like.”

The frequency of content, as well as how easily accessible and unrealistic it is, can cause youth to develop a skewed sense of societal expectations at an early age.Body%20Image%202.png

“What we’ve learned over time is that it really does impact kids,” she said. “The things we experience and see in childhood are carried with us later into life – things like boy colours, girl colours, girl activities, boy activities, good bodies, bad bodies and so on.”

With all of that in mind, rather than dwelling on surface appearances, students are encouraged to focus on the positive things about their body and all the amazing things it’s capable of..

It’s important that youth direct their time and energy on what’s happening in their own life, treat their bodies well and know that healthy people come in all shapes and sizes.

Body Image is one of several topics explored in a series of mental health and wellness videos created by the district in support of students and families, offering support and insight on how to navigate common issues faced by young people. 

“These are invitations to begin conversations around these issues,” said Ambrosio. “These kinds of feelings and emotions around how you look and how that makes you feel are totally normal and if we have anyone struggling with that, we want them to know that it’s a very natural thing and that there is help available for anyone struggling with that.”

As with our other animated mental health video resources, there are two versions of the Body Images video available, one for elementary aged students and another for intermediate/secondary aged students. Each video also has a corresponding teacher guide to support classroom discussions about the topic in an age-appropriate manner. There is also a parent guide to all the videos, with suggestions on questions to prompt conversations, as well as community resources if families need additional support.
 
Body Image is also available in French, Punjabi, Mandarin and Arabic. Body-Image-3.jpg

To see the rest of the video series, click here, or select the topic below: 

These videos were developed in partnership with Fraser Health and the Ministry of Education and Child Care, which provided financial support for the project.

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