Why is positive self-esteem and body image so critical?
Self-esteem refers to a person’s overall sense of their worth, various factors are believed to influence our self-esteem. These include:
- Life experiences
- Social circumstances
Experts agree that body image and self-esteem directly impact the lives of sufferers. The statistics are clear:
- About 44% of girls and 15% of boys in secondary school are attempting to lose weight (Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse)
- Nearly all women (90%) want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance (Confidence Coalition)
- Only 2% of women think they are beautiful (Confidence Coalition)
Self-esteem is not fixed- it is changeable meaning we can improve upon it.
Body Image Awareness Workshops
In response to this, First Steps ED have created a series of workshops focusing on the four aspects of body image; perceptual, affective, cognitive and behavioural. These workshops are for adults and young people (aged 13+), aiming to give individuals the tools to build positive body image to improve general wellbeing and mental health behaviour and provide a platform for group discussion on a variety of issues thus breaking down stigma around mental health.
- Session 1: Introduction & What is body image?
- Session 2: Perceptions
- Session 3: Effects of media on body image
- Session 4: Accepting Change
- Session 5: Thinking Ahead
First Steps ED run these workshops in support of the annual Weight Stigma Awareness Week #ComeAsYouAre.
Weight Stigma is the negative response to someone based on their weight. It is the fourth most common form of social discrimination amongst adults, after age, gender and race.
Weight stigma and its emotional effects are associated with all measures of disordered eating – public messages that centre around personal blame for a person’s weight can cause maladaptive eating behaviours as well as feelings of low self-esteem and social rejection.
What does weight stigma look like?
- Public comment, harassment and/or assault based on body size.
- Commuters avoiding sitting next to a larger bodied traveller in peak hour.
- Employers assessing the work ethic of a candidate on body size and giving the job to a smaller candidate of comparable skills.
- Giving infantilising praise to a larger person for ‘doing health’, e.g. exercising, or eating vegetables.
First Steps ED want to help reduce weight stigma by increasing awareness – lack of education and awareness is one of the biggest causes of weight stigma. We strive to improve people’s knowledge regarding weight stigma and the devastating effects it can cause. Also, we do not judge any of our service users based on their weight. Our service does not have any clinical weight criteria that individuals need to reach to receive support from us.
Our Body Image Awareness Workshops are open to everyone, of any size and shape. We do not feed into inaccurate and harmful stereotypes regarding people’s weight. We treat all of our service users with the same high levels of empathy and respect, regardless of how much they weigh.