The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Charlie Roden

Wellbeing podcast: body image and eating disorders

In the fourth episode of the Optimus wellbeing podcast, Charlie Roden looks at the factors contributing to negative body image, how this can affect mental health and what can be done to support children and young people.

Body image is how we think and feel about our appearance, and how we think other people see us. 

Unfortunately, negative body image is on the rise – particularly amongst teenagers.

Last year, a survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that:

  • almost a third of teenagers feel ashamed about their body image
  • four in ten worry about their body image because of images seen on social media
  • four in ten worry about their body image because of comments made by friends
  • 35 per cent of teenagers worry about their body image often or every day
  • more than a third have stopped eating at some point or restricted their diet because of worries over the way they look.

In this episode, we'll be looking at:

  • why people tend to focus on girls rather than boys [2:00]
  • the factors contributing to negative body image in boys [4:18]
  • how schools can support pupils [6:23]
  • the factors contributing to negative body image in girls [10:52]
  • how we can support girls in feeling better about their appearance [11:50]
  • the myths surrounding eating disorders [13:41]
  • how to spot the signs of an eating disorder [17:23]
  • how to support pupils and where to signpost them to [20:09].

Meet our speakers!

Martin Staniforth 

Taking the conversation away from appearance is a really good thing to do. There's far too much focus on the way we look, as if that's the most important thing 

Martin Staniforth works as a Catalyst for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, helping to create a range of body image resources for teachers, youth leaders, parents and young people. 

Ayo Awotona 

We're caught up in a society where it's so easy to look externally, and we don't look internally enough 

Ayo Awotona is an author, renowned international speaker and educator who specialises in confidence building for girls and young women. 

Gemma Oaten 

I was always a bubbly, outgoing person... it's like a light started to switch off inside of me

Gemma Oaten is a former Emmerdale actress and eating disorder expert.

She regularly speaks to audiences about eating disorder awareness and is the patron of her parents’ eating disorders charity SEED (Support and Empathy for Eating Disorders). 

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