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School encourages pupils to challenge toxic ‘unobtainable body ideals’

Thomas Cowley High school pupils have been having 'body image' workshops to counteract negative effects of unobtainable & photoshopped images in the media. L-R Deanna Masterman 13, Mary Meredith - assistant head teacher, Megan Bean 14 and Jacob Robertson 14. EMN-140314-153704001

Thomas Cowley High school pupils have been having 'body image' workshops to counteract negative effects of unobtainable & photoshopped images in the media. L-R Deanna Masterman 13, Mary Meredith - assistant head teacher, Megan Bean 14 and Jacob Robertson 14. EMN-140314-153704001

With so much pressure in today’s culture to conform to unobtainable body ideals – one school has hit back with a series of inspiring workshops.

More than 130 pupils at Thomas Cowley High School in Donington have benefited from a ‘body image’ workshop by eating disorder charity B-EAT.

The talk, for pupils aged 11-14 and their parents, asked them to challenge the ‘unattainable and fake ideals’ of beauty that surround them in the mass media – in magazines, music videos and on television.

“I think it’s vital we work together to support young people in coping with today’s toxic cultural environment,” said head teacher Mary Meredith, who organised the talk.

“When Rebecca Addlington is weeping in the ‘I’m a Celebrity’ jungle because she hates her body – that same majestic, athletic body that powered her to two gold medals – we know that something is very wrong. It’s our duty as parents and as educators to respond.”

Following the talk, pupils spoke about the impact it had on them.

Deanna Masterman, 13, said, “I was reassured to see just how much magazine models have been photoshopped – made to look thinner and more perfect. A lot of girls find it helpful to know that these images aren’t real.”

Megan Bean, 14, said: “It’s a very important area to focus on and students have been talking about it a lot. I think rating our body confidence was a really interesting thing to do. It was surprising to see whose was low – especially some of the lads.”

Jacob Robertson, 14, added: “It’s hard for boys too - but the workshop made me feel that I don’t have to care so much about my looks.”

Parents were told that children as young as 10 are now being admitted into hospitals with organ failure resulting from anorexia nervosa.

Head teacher Martyn Taylor said: “We are proud of our reputation as a caring school. We work very hard to ensure all of our students achieve their potential and we do this by focussing on their emotional wellbeing just as closely as we do their academic progress.”

The school has launched a series of mental wellbeing workshops, focussing on anxiety, low mood and self esteem.

Their next event is on May 15, when Cosmopolitan’s ‘woman of the year’ Natasha Devon will give a talk to year 10 pupils. Natasha was one of the experts featured on Gok Wan’s programme ‘Gok’s Teens - the Naked Truth’.

 

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