This brand new project of the public health committee has as its main theme body image. It is intended to be an interactive workshop targeting an age group ranging from Secondary 1 to 5. The workshop is divided into three sections. The first defines the concepts of body image and self-esteem and explores their familial, social and cultural influences. The second teaches young people about normal pubertal development, body patterns and factors influencing height and weight. It also deals with delicate subjects such as acne. The third section supports young people in their quest to accept their body by giving them advice on diet and physical activity and by demystifying yoyo diets and dietary supplements.
The project has been reviewed and approved by members of the faculties of medicine of the universities of Montreal and McGill and of the Canadian Pediatric Society.
Progress of the presentation
The workshop format is very versatile – it adapts to various contexts. For example, it is possible to make a short presentation of one or two hours with the aim of initiating a discussion about body image in mixed groups. It is also possible to adapt it in a longer presentation in specifically male or female groups and deal with the harmful effects of diets or excessive physical training. We can even do several workshops spread over a few weeks to allow young people to follow up on their daily habits and thoughts.
The approach is not much a lecture. On the contrary, it is very interactive and invites young people to share their opinions and discuss them and above all, to stimulate critical analysis in order to build solutions to their problems. We approach young people with scientific facts so that they themselves reflect on the information given to them in an objective manner. For example, the fact that a person with an endomorphic body format who stops eating will not be able to obtain an ectomorphic figure because his bone mass is too large.
The aim of our presentation is not to get teenagers to love their body. Rather, it is intended as a way for them to put into perspective the way they see their body and the influence of their perceptions. We also want it to be a way of making them realize the limits and effectiveness of various approaches that they can employ to obtain the body image that they want (for example, diets and physical training), all by instilling in them some basic biology notions on the how their changing body works.
Here is a brief review of the topics that are covered in the three sections of the workshop and which form the basis of our integrated prevention strategy.
Section 1: Body Image and Self-Esteem
This section begins with a shocking question that asks each participant to give themselves a score on a scale from 1 to 10. We continue the discussions by defining the concepts of self-esteem and body image while discussing their influences (individual, familial, social, media, cultural, temporal). The whole discussion is accompanied by numerous examples with photos, discussions on divergent beauty standards around the world, etc. The main objective here is for the adolescents to determine what they think of themselves and their body and to reflect on the influences of external factors on their self-perception.
Section 2: Body shapes and puberty
This section is intended to be more of a lecture but is still very applied and concrete in order to answer questions and concerns often raised by adolescents in relation to their body and the body changes in adolescence. For example, we explain why it is normal for young girls ‘thighs to be wider than boys’. We also explain why boys are often confronted with the fact that their puberty is less advanced than that of girls at the start of secondary school. We deal with topics like acne by demystifying its mechanism and recommending a few products. Even more importantly, we are talking about the different body sizes and the factors that influence the height and weight of teenagers (modifiable and non-modifiable factors).
Section 3: What about the body image I want?
This last section aims to support young people in their reflections on the methods they choose to “work” on their body image. We deal with topics such as detox diets, yoyo diets, the caloric content of various meals. We deal with topics like real hunger (physiological hunger) and false hunger (hunger associated with emotions, social habits and advertising influences). A certain importance is also given to energy drinks. We talk about sleep and its impact on growth and self-esteem, as well as the benefits of a physical activities on self-esteem and body image. We also talk about excessive training and the use of various supplements and offer more balanced solutions.
For any other information or question, please contact
Co-coordinator Fiers et en forme (Mauricie)
Co-coordinator Proud and Fit (Mauricie)
Co-coordinator Proud and Fit (Laval)
Hong Hao Xu
Co-coordinator Proud and Fit (Laval)