Letter to Parents

Everjoy Metropolitan           
Public School
25 Merryville Lane, Summer Town, 3057, Vilitica.
               Phone: (45) 8464 2348  Fax: (45) 8464 4798 

Dear Parents/Caregivers,

This letter is to inform you about a new program being run for your child, Media Bodies. This series of lessons will commence on the 20th September 2008, as part of the usual Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) curriculum. Media Bodies will address the issue of body image, in particular relation to the role of the media in influencing the way that young people feel about their bodies. Below is some information about Media Bodies. If you have any concerns or queries, please do not hesitate to contact me by calling (45) 8464 2348.

Yours Sincerely,
Miss Michelle Sutton. 

How Does Media Bodies Fit Into The Syllabus?
Media Bodies is a series of lessons that addresses outcomes from the Stage 3 (Years 5 and 6) PDHPE Syllabus. PDHPE is concerned with developing in students the knowledge and understanding, skills, values and attitudes that will enable them to lead healthy and fulfilling lives 1.
This syllabus requires that students receive systematic and explicit teaching about skills that will assist students in developing resilience in their own lives.
Addressing the outcome for the Growth and Development strand of the PDHPE syllabus, Media Bodies aims to improve your child’s ability to discerningly view media texts, so that they are less negatively influenced by the continual representation of a narrow range of body types and digitally manipulated images that promote virtually unattainable perfection. Students will also develop the key skills of Communicating and Interacting as well as Values such as a sense of own worth, and a sense of belonging. 

Why Is It Important To Teach Children About Developing A Healthy Body Image?
Over recent decades, there have been changes to the ‘ideal’ body shape promoted in media and advertising for both males and females. Whilst male body ideals have been becoming increasingly muscular, female body ideals are becoming increasingly slim 2. Simultaneously, there has been an increase in the number of adolescents who display distorted and negative body perceptions, despite most being of a normal body weight 2. 
Early intervention to prevent the development of body image issues is necessary not only to improve the self-esteem of students. Poor body image has also been linked with an increased risk of developing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, risky drug taking and teen pregnancy 2 

What activities will students be involved in?
Students will be discussing and developing their ideas of what body image is. They will collaboratively identify influences that affect how they feel about their bodies. In particular, students will be introduced to techniques, such as strategic lighting and airbrushing, that are used in the advertising for the health and beauty industries.
Students will discuss the affect on body images of being surrounded by unrealistic body ideals in the form of either narrowly selected or digitally altered images. In response to this, students will construct expositions that present an opinion about digital image manipulation. Students will also create a resource for promoting positive body image, to be shared with other students in the school. 

What resources will the students be using during Media Bodies?
The main stimulus for the series of lessons will be the “Evolution” advertisement that was produced by Dove as part of their Campaign for Real Beauty which demonstrates techniques used to manipulate media images. This will be used as an example to get students thinking about the influence that the media has on body image. Students will also deconstruct this short film in terms of the techniques that are used to create unrealistic ideals of beauty. Although this film deals only with the image manipulation of the female form, another short film, Fabricating Beauty, will also be viewed that demonstrates this process for males also. 

Where Can I Find More Information About Body Image And Ways To Support My Child?
There are a number of resources that you may find useful to access.Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty website contains interactive tools that you can complete with your child. These are mainly targeted at young girls. There are also sections that mothers can complete to help them understand how their own body image influences that of their daughters.

The Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service of the South Australian Government has created a website dedicated to Teen Health issues, including body image. This site provides a general overview of what body image is, what it is influenced by, and strategies to improve personal body image.

The Victoria Government has also produced a health initiative website that addresses healthy lifestyle choices for teenagers, adults, children and families. The section on body image provides strategies for students to trial to improve their body image and self-esteem.

Issues in Society: Healthy Body Image (2003) is a collection of articles edited by Justin Healey. It addresses different aspects of body image including types of influences, effects of poor body image on health, body image issues that affect each gender specifically, statistics and strategies to promote healthy body images.    

1.      BOS NSW. (2001). Personal Development, Health and Physical Education K-6: Syllabus. Sydney: Author.
2.      O’Dea, J. (2007). Everybody’s different. Camberwell: Acer Press. pp. 3-4.