Creating a body positive school

Key points:

  • Schools can implement a range of initiatives to encourage students to have a positive body image and attitude towards food and eating
  • It’s important for sports programs to teach students about the joy of movement and self-acceptance rather than focus on “winning”
  • Media literacy programs provide an opportunity to teach students to critically analyse media messages

Teachers and school staff are in an ideal situation to help students learn the importance of a positive body image, develop a healthy attitude towards food and exercise, and develop critical media analysis skills.

Tips for creating a body positive school

  • Ensure policies and attitudes promote a “mind and body” friendly environment.
  • Encourage the support of school council in promoting healthy body image and mental wellbeing.
  • Foster a belief that healthy body image is an important health and learning area.
  • Include body image components in school nutrition, physical activity and harassment policies.
  • Ensure that school uniforms suit a diverse range of sizes and shapes.
  • Ensure teachers model body satisfaction, healthy eating and enjoyment of movement.
  • Educate staff about eating disorders (including warning signs) and body image.
  • Have brochures and resources available for students, staff and parents.
  • Provide opportunities for all students to develop their self-esteem and self-worth; avoid a culture of perfectionism.
  • Avoid weighing or measuring body size.
  • Avoid negative messages about food and nutrition.

Tips for P.E. and school sporting programs

  • Provide areas and equipment for a wide range of physical activities.
  • Understand growth development and puberty.
  • Use P.E. classes as an opportunity to strengthen self-esteem and self-acceptance.
  • Reduce the pressure to achieve.
  • Focus on goals such as overall wellbeing, energy levels, fitness and flexibility rather than weight.
  • Remember that fat does not necessarily mean unfit.
  • Don’t associate physical activity with weight loss or calorie burning.

more info for fitness professionals

Media literacy

Media literacy improves students’ ability to critically analyse media messages. Media literacy programs should encourage self-acceptance and help to reduce the internalisation of the thin/muscular ideal and the body image norms which are constantly reinforced by the media. Media literacy will:

  • Promote self-acceptance
  • Increase respect for self and others
  • Increase rejection of cultural stereotypes; promote tolerance and diversity
  • Reduce self-expectations of perfection

Education workshops for schools

EDV Education run workshops for primary and secondary school students, staff and parents. For more information, call 1300 550 236 or email

Further resources

Food For Thought by headspace aims to increase the confidence, skills and knowledge of key staff in secondary schools to enable them to identify early, intervene appropriately and support young people who may be experiencing disordered eating and other early warning signs of an emerging eating disorder.

having the conversation: teachers and school staff