Samantha sees advertisements, commercials and magazines with images of thin, airbrushed models everyday. She doesn’t feel she measures up to society’s standards of beauty.
“It’s messed up,” the 17-year-old high school student said. “I’m never happy when it comes down to it. My hair isn’t shiny enough. My face isn’t flawless and I’m either too skinny or not skinny enough.”
In an effort to help high school students such as Samantha build a healthy self-image, Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School is running Body Connections: A Body Image Workshop.
Sandra Pereira, a social worker at the high school, is in charge of the program. “The workshop was developed in Michigan,” Pereira said. “As part of an initiative to run more programs at (Vanier) I decided to give it a try.”
The workshop promotes a healthy and positive body image among female students who are struggling with self-esteem. It is being offered to senior female students who are in the credit recovery program as a pilot project.
The credit recovery program was designed for students who are significantly behind in their credits. If the group is successful Pereira says she would like to offer it to other females.
Wiping mist off the mirror
“We identify and challenge societal messages about body image,” Pereira said. “The program is about making changes in what they think and what they see.”
Growing up, Pereira recalls different times in her life when she felt too skinny or insecure about her braces. “Low self-esteem and distorted body image is a huge problem among teenage girls these
days,” she said.
“I was lucky enough to have a lot of people around me who always instilled confidence in me.”
The first session of the workshop ran on Nov. 13. Each session lasts approximately 70 minutes and it is run during the school day. The group meets during a different period every week so that the
girls aren’t missing the same classes.
Participation is completely voluntary and the workshop will run for six weeks. “There are all of these unreasonable expectations of beauty and sexiness that young girls feel thy need to achieve,” Samantha said.
“I think the workshop will make a huge difference in the way that see ourselves and probably help us to do better in school because we feel confident that we can.”