“Iowa’s Body Confident Schools” Wrap Up

On Sunday, January 30, 2022, EDCI was proud to host a free event for Iowa educators. Denise Hamburger from BE REAL presented a one hour webinar entitled “Iowa’s Body Confident Schools”. BE REAL is “a grassroots movement linking caring people in local communities, business, and government with organized opportunities to change a culture that isn’t working for anybody’s body image in today’s world.”


Denise began the presentation with a discussion on body image concerns during adolescence. Sharing that 70% of adolescent girls and 45% of adolescent boys don’t feel comfortable in their own skin, she described how an appearance-obsessed culture increases pressure for teenagers to strive for a 'thin ideal or to look 'perfect'. This pressure, combined with a strong social media influence on a thin body ideal, makes adolescents especially vulnerable to body image dissatisfaction, eating disorders, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.


Promoting a body confident school environment can involve several key features. Shifting from the current culture of health focusing on weight and body size, to a framework that emphasizes self care and supportive, healthy behaviors can be a positive change for students. Schools are encouraged to review posters, books and materials to make sure they include all shapes and sizes of individuals. Denise also recommended that schools consider a point person to support positive body image and anti-bullying policies that include harassment based on weight or appearance. Ensuring students of all sizes are encouraged to participate in all activities is also imperative.


BE REAL has developed a high school curriculum that will be available later this spring. The BE REAL body confidence curriculum is designed to be incorporated into schools’ existing educational formats. EDCI believes that helping Iowa schools teach and promote body confidence will give students the courage to navigate the challenges surrounding food, their bodies and social media.


To view the recording of Denise’s webinar, please use this link. For more information on BE REAL body confident curriculum or to have Denise hold a workshop for your school district please send an email to denise@berealusa.org.