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Creating Body Positive Classrooms

Student reporter Vaidehi Pants speaks to teachers and students about creating body positive classrooms

Creating Body Positive Classrooms

Don’t you just hate it when you hear the annoying bullies next door laughing at the strangely skinny girl? Or when someone trips a double-chinned guy and you always join in laughing?

Well, what do you know, the boy is on a diet and the girl cries every time she sees herself in the mirror and overeats.

In fact, this is the case worldwide. This is so bad that one in eight (13%) adults experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns about their body image and just over 40% of teenagers said images on social media caused them to worry about their body image. 

Body shaming can have negative emotional effects, including lowered self-esteem and the development of issues such as eating disorders, anxiety, lower academic performance and depression. Body image was listed in the top 4 concerns for young women. Unfortunately, this is the same case for India.

77.6% of  girls in Coimbatore aren’t satisfied with their body shape. The most commonly followed ways to improve their appearances were eating small meals and skipping meals. But, if this is such a big problem, shouldn’t we make a difference? Oh, but we are making one!

Students and teachers have found new ways to make a classroom a body-positive space.

First, let’s hear from our educators.

I asked educators how we could create body positive classrooms.  

Ms.Sukhmani Kaur, an educator says that Classrooms should be body-positive because they are learning spaces that prepare an individual to live their life and be who they want to be. Classrooms should provide a free environment for students to learn various values and provide each other the comfort to practise their own individuality.”

Another educator, Ms. Martina Roy, says- “Classrooms must be body-positive. Every class must ensure that they not only respect each other as individuals but also respect each other when it comes to their bodies, colour of their skin, race, gender, ethnicity, etc. If this language becomes common in the classrooms, students will be more sensitive towards each other and will spread the message of body positivity beyond the classroom.”

Teachers have come up with these points to make a classroom body-positive-

1. To bring in diversity as an important concept in the classroom and how it benefits the society at large.

2. To encourage students to read more books/text material that inculcate self acceptance.

3. Bringing in examples of such cases from around the world.

4. Encourage self-love.

5. Ensure that the class is taught to respect every individual in a wholesome manner.

Now, let’s hear from the students!

Zoya, a Grade 5 student, Age 10, says- “To me, body positivity means loving your body and being happy, confident and comfortable in your own skin.”

Kyra, another student, says- “I went through this, so I’m going to explain how I felt. I felt so hopeless, so unable, to the point where I despised tight or cropped clothes. I was stressed, I was panicky and felt really alone. All my friends were, like, stick thin, and that is how I thought everyone should be. Social media didn’t help either. Perfect girls, unattainable beauty standards. It’s all a trap.”

When asked why classrooms should be body positive, this is what Diyaa, Agastya and Radhika had to say.

Diyaa- “Classrooms should be body-positive because there should never be someone who is pressurised because of how they look and feel. It can distract them from their studies as well!”

Radhika- “I think through us, we can encourage others to love themselves, no matter what.”

Agastya- “We get deeply affected by our peers and our surroundings. If the classrooms are body positive, they would for sure have an impact on everyone”

Students have also come up with ways to make a classroom body positive-

  1. Make sure if such a thing happens to definitely stop it and make sure to support others.

  2. Encourage friends to not care about their weight and stay healthy.

  3. Never comment on somebody's size or weight as it has happened to some of us before.

  4. Complimenting everyone.

  5. Reassuring everyone that they're beautiful just the way they are.

So, with this, as we have identified what both students and teachers think about body positivity, what do you know now? Has your perspective on the world changed? Has your perspective on body-negative people changed? Well, you’ll have to do something to find out! Remember, every little action helps make a better, and more body-positive world!

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