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The Dove Self-Esteem Project: Appearance ideals

Parent Zone has partnered with the Dove Self-Esteem Project to help you in your work with young people.

Low self-esteem can affect everything, from school work to how you socialise with others, but these tips, together with our FREE expert resources, accredited by the PSHE Association, can help you to help them feel great 

Sign up for our FREE teacher resources to run your own in-school self-esteem workshop for your pupils

Already signed up? Log in and go straight to the resources.

You can download a single session workshop, Confident Me.

The 45-60-minute workshop addresses key topics including media influence, peer pressure and strategies for promoting body image and self-esteem. Students learn through class discussion, small-group activities, videos and activity worksheets.

If you have more time, the subjects are also covered in a 5-session workshop.

This week's featured resource:

Confident Me, Session 1, Appearance ideals

(This is the first part of a 5-session workshop to run in class)

Time: 45 minutes

In this session, students explore and challenge the concept of appearance ideals. Where do they come from? What pressure do they put on us? How have they changed? What qualities should we celebrate instead?

Students will understand that pressures to look beautiful and attractive are all around us. They come from a range of sources, including society, media, family, friends and peers, and represent narrow, changing ideas, based on opinions, not facts. Matching these appearance ideals is actually impossible for most people, so trying to match them is unrealistic, pointless and possibly harmful.

Image: Slide from the workshop

Possible questions to ask

  • What do we mean by appearance ideals?
  • Where do we find out about appearance ideals?
  • What appearance pressures do we face?
  • What is the impact of these appearance pressures?
  • What else can we value?

Support materials

Film: the changing face of appearance ideals

Learning outcomes

By the end of this session, students will recognise the pressures caused by trying to match appearance ideals, and the impact this has on their everyday lives.

They will:

  • Understand the concept of appearance ideals and where pressure to achieve them comes from.
  • Recognise the pressures caused by trying to match appearance ideals, and the impact this has on their everyday lives.
  • Develop strategies to challenge appearance ideals, resist appearance pressures and build body confidence.

The programme has been developed to support the school curricula. In England and Wales, Key stage 3 outcomes include identifying personal strengths, recognising how personal qualities are evaluated by others, awareness of healthy eating, and media portrayal of body image. For those following the Scottish CfE 3rd level health and wellbeing programme, it covers emotional, social and physical wellbeing, planning for choices and changes, and the impact of popular culture and the media.

This is the first part of a 5-session workshop. These resources have been evaluated by the Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England. It showed that students who participate in Dove Confident Me experience improved self-esteem, have a more positive self- image, and feel more confident to participate in social and academic activities.

Sign up for your free dove Self-Esteem Project workshop resources

For parents

Download the free Uniquely Me parent guide to hand out to your pupils and parents.

PDF icon Uniquely Me.pdf

This downloadable pdf contains expert advice from Dove Self-Esteem Project global experts from the fields of psychology, body image, self-esteem, eating disorders and media representation to create a resource for parents that is focused on advice and action.

Check out our Dove Self-Esteem Project resources for parents on our sister site, Parent Info.

Main image: Wayhome Studio/Shutterstock

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