Schools & Education
BodyMatters offers a variety of services to educate and work with both schools and the community about body image and eating issues. Experience has shown it is best to work collaboratively with schools & take a “whole school approach” to change school culture. Parents & educators are vital resources for this to occur. BodyMatters also offers a similar service for tertiary institutions, community groups and workplaces who are impacted by eating and body image and require specialized education and support to manage these issues. Examples of presentations that we have previously delivered are listed below. We can customise these or work with you to create something that meets your specific needs. Testimonials of our services are available here. You can listen to Sarah McMahon speak about managing eating disorders in schools in this webinar to a range of school staff, kindly reproduced with the permission of the NSW Association of Independent Schools.
Every school has students who struggle with body image, unhealthy weight loss behaviours, and eating disorders. Typical problems include students competing to see who can eat the least number of calories at lunch time, returning from a hospital admission for anorexia being positioned as ‘weight loss experts’ by their peers and students taking up smoking to control their weight. At the same time many schools are concerned about childhood obesity and promote anti-obesity messages that may inflate body image problems. Our psychologists provide specialized intervention to help create a healthy culture in your school that takes a ‘first, do no harm’ approach. Areas of expertise for consultations include to schools who are concerned they have an “eating disorder epidemic”, to assisting schools manage the chronic cases of eating disorders.
Many parents tell us that they feel they are walking a tightrope when it comes to fostering health in their children: teach kids to love their bodies and they may develop obesity, or teach them to be cautious about food and exercise and they may develop an eating disorder. We help parents navigate the confusing health messages so that they can foster health in a safe way for their child. It starts with exploring their own body image, looking at the science behind health and weight claims and deconstructing harmful cultural messages about girls and women. Awareness of early intervention and strategies on how to boost resiliency in their children will be explored.
Educators are in a privileged position to help young people reach their potential- and their academic potential is only a fraction of the influence that educators have. Many educators tell us they themselves feel they work in a toxic environment that encourages a dieting culture. It is difficult to promote body love and acceptance when that is not what you experience yourself. It is also difficult to focus on curriculum based education when your students are not well enough to be learning. Our educator training informs teachers about all aspects of eating disorders ranging from prevention and early intervention to management in the classroom.
School workshops and presentations
Our workshops are delivered by psychologists who specialize in eating disorders, body image and unhealthy weight loss behaviours. Our workshops are typically customized to suit each school’s unique needs. Some examples of presentations we have previously completed include:
By now most teenage girls are aware that celebrity and other images are doctored, but is knowing enough? This class considers the harmful societal context in which girls exist – where advanced technologies mean that girls’ bodies are monitored and surveillanced at a scale never before. In a supposedly ‘post-feminist’ era, girls are increasingly taught that unless they are hot, they are irrelevant, with the female body com-modified, plasticized and packaged to cater to the ‘male gaze’. We look at what it means to be ‘objectified,’ ‘sexualized,’ and how gender stereotyping and sexism teaches girls to measure their self-worth by how sexually desirable they are. Using media images and small group tasks, we teach girls to become critical consumers of media and boost resiliency against this toxic cultural messaging.
Ditching the Diet
While everyone knows ‘diets don’t work’, unhealthy weight loss behaviours are becoming increasingly normative in schools. Rather than focusing on health, girls learn that being thin is what matters most. This class takes a fascinating look at the science behind many health and weight claims, and explores groundbreaking studies during World War II that explain how biological safeguards work to protect our bodies and make dieting an ineffective, time-consuming and self-defeating aim. Using didactic, fun-packed tasks, we give girls strategies on how to work with their bodies- not against them – and to boost resistance against harmful dieting messages.
How to Eat
It sounds so simple, yet for many, eating means deciphering a host of mixed health messages, ignoring hunger and disconnecting from our bodies. Yet all of us are built with an ability to regulate our own appetite, to distinguish between different types of hunger (sensory, emotional, physical), and to take pleasure in food. We take girls through a mindful eating exercise and teach them to appreciate their bodily signals. In this class, girls are taught how to listen to their bodies – eating when hungry, stopping when full, while using nutritional information to guide their choices. We also explore the connection between mood and food.
Tertiary Institutions, Community Organisations, & Corporations
BodyMatters offers custom-designed workshops for a variety of tertiary institutions, community organisations, and corporations. We also offer specialist ‘in-house’ intensive training for health professionals who work with those affected by body diversity issues or disordered eating.
Contact us today to discuss how we can help your school or organisation.