Body Image Print

A Lesson Plan from Life Planning Education: A Youth Development Program (Chapter One)

NOTE:  Life Planning Education (LPE) is currently being revised. The printed/for-sale version includes an older version of this lesson plan. Please make sure you have looked at the PDF of Life Planning Education before purchasing - that is the version that is available to buy. 

Purpose: To increase each participant's awareness of his/her physical self and of media influences on her/his self-image and behavior

Materials: Popular magazines for clipping; scissors and glue; newsprint [two sheets for each group of four or five teens] and markers; masking tape

Time: 40 to 50 minutes

Planning Notes: Make sure you have diverse magazines offering pictures of men and women of varied race/ethnicity but especially of the race/ethnicity of the participants.


  1. Point out that many people do not feel proud and confident about how they look.  Some people don’t feel good about their body.
  2. Form same-sex groups of four to five youth in each group.  Give each group two sheets of newsprint and a marker.
  3. Give instructions for the activity:
    • You will have 20 minutes to complete this activity.
    • Make a list on one piece of newsprint of the parts of the body that people of your gender often feel dissatisfied with. Label your list Men often do not like... or Women often do not like...
    • Using two or three magazines, find pictures of people of your gender that you think are attractive.  Make a collage of these pictures or your own drawings on the other piece of newsprint.  Add words or phrases that describe an attractive member of your own gender.
    • When you have finished the collage, tape both the list and the collage side by side on one of the walls.
  4. Allow about 20 minutes for the groups to work, then request everyone's attention.  Ask the adolescents to walk around the room, reading the lists and looking at the collages.
  5. Ask everyone to take a seat.  Summarize what you see on the lists and ask thoughtful questions about what the lists and collages demonstrate.  For example, if several male lists include height, you might say and ask the following:  I notice that several groups of young men listed height as one thing men often do not like about their own body.  I see lots of tall men in the collages.  What does that say about men who are short or of medium height? Can they still be attractive?  Why do you think that only tall men are attractive?
  6. Conclude the activity with the discussion points below.

Discussion Points:

  1. Do you think that, in general, women or men are more satisfied with their own appearance?  Why?
  2. Where do we get our ideas about what is attractive and what is not?
  3. Did you find pictures that coincided with your ideas about what is attractive?  If not, what were you looking for that you couldn’t find?
  4. Are you affected by other people’s opinions about your body?  How do you know what their opinions are?
  5. 5media images influence how attractive or appealing we feel?  Does the behavior of people toward whom we are attracted influence how we feel?  [If youth respond that the attitudes and behaviors of people of the opposite sex influence how they feel, be sure to point out that not everyone is romantically interested in someone of the opposite sex.]
  6. Can we change some parts of our body?  Which ones and how?  [Circle those parts on some of the lists.]  Have we really changed when we change these parts of our bodies?  Are we better people?
  7. What parts of us can we not change?  Does our inability to change some parts of the body mean we are unattractive? Why or why not?
  8. What is it about us that is attractive and that does not rest on our appearance?  [If participants do not suggest these things, be sure to bring them up: humor, intelligence, friendliness, kindness, tact, consideration, patience, determination, compassion.  How about our ability to love and be loved, to be a good parent, student, employee, or employer, friend, or neighbor?]
  9. What things can an adolescent do to feel better about his/her body?  [Answers should include being supportive friends and finding supportive friends, paying less attention to media images, talking to a counselor, etc.]

Life Planning Education, Advocates for Youth, Updated 2009

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