I am currently teaching my class of 10-year-olds about self-esteem.

We start by thinking about appearance ideals and where we actually get our ideas surrounding beauty from.

First we analyse fashion to see how it changes over the decades, and we even think about why it’s changing. As we have studied a lot about World War I, World War II and propaganda we discuss the politics of fashion and, for example, why women were encouraged to go back into the home and be glamorous housewives after World War II because the men came back and needed the jobs.

This encourages them to realise that our ideas surrounding what looks good and what doesn’t can be manipulated, swayed or changed by the fashion industry, the music industry, movies and social media.

I give them an outline of a female and male body and ask them what messages does society send them about what women and men should look like. I’m always amazed to see 10 year olds list things like long hair, big lips, big breasts, big bums, skinny, long legs, no wrinkles& hairless for women, and tall, muscular, six pack abs, short hair for men. One year I had large penises added to the list too.

They may be 10 years old but society’s messaging surrounding appearance is not going unnoticed. I suspect one could do these lessons (or have these conversations) with seven and eight-year-olds and still get similar answers.

We go on to think about how much time and money might go into reaching for these goals and as they are ever changing, how we’ll never be able to obtain them and how this could pay a toll on our mental health (such as eating disorders). We think about what makes us unique and how we can celebrate our differences and special gifts 💝

Next I’ll be talking to them about photoshopping and filtering and how we really can’t believe everything we see.

Raising media literate children is the only way to help them become critical thinkers and navigate the world they are in. #Comparisonisthetheifofjoy