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Self Esteem

Items Required: Powerpoint with airbrushed images, Dove – Fabricating Beauty video, flipchart, pens, A4 Paper, Bibles, the mirrors mp3 track, Laptop, Projector, the Fact or Fiction Quiz (click to download)

Aims: To give young people an idea of what Self esteem and body image are. To explore what the world says about how we should look and contrast it to what the bible says. To also touch upon eating disorders and gain an understanding.


Ice Breaker: Honey if you love me, smile! – Young people sit in a circle and one person goes to the centre. They must say to someone (in any style but without physical contact) ‘Honey if you love me, will you smile for me?’ and the other person must reply ‘Honey, you know I love you but I just can’t smile’. If the other person smiles then they must take the centre allowing the other person to sit down.

Introduction: Explain that today we’ll be looking at Self Esteem and Body image and touching a little bit upon eating disorders.

Brainstorm: What do you think we mean by self esteem? What about body image?

Ideal Man/Woman: Get the groups to write down (on a drawn stick man and woman) what they think makes an ideal man or woman…purely physically.

Ask: Where do you think we get this idea from? What tells us how we should look? (Feel free to allow this discussion extend)

Explain: A lot of the ideas we get about how we should look comes from the media. Newspapers, television and magazines all tell us we should look a particular way. Even if a celebrity has only put on a tiny amount of weight and is now a size 12 the gossip magazines ridicule them…trying their upmost to find the most unflattering holiday snap they can.

Even the magazine fronts we just glance at show us that men should be muscular and women should have an hour-glass figure but it’s just not realistic…or real for that matter!

Even toys promote an unrealistic body image. Over the years Barbie’s other half ‘Ken’ has got progressively more muscular, whilst the doll-star herself is just as unrealistic. If Barbie was a real human being her measurements would put her on the anorexic scale and the size of her boobs would give her back problems!

Video: Dove: Fabricating Beauty – YouTube Link

Ask: What did you think of that?

Quiz: Radio 1 – Airbrushed Presenters – (using powerpoint)

Ask: What do you think of the airbrushed images? Did anyone look better or worse after they’d been ‘made over’? Who defines what beauty is?

Explain: When it comes to how we look all of us are our own worst critic. A survey showed that only 2% of women think that they are beautiful (source: This is a tiny percentage and it’s not just women, men are just as effected too.

Scales: Ask the group to imagine a scale across the room. One end is 10 and the other is 1. Ask them to stand where they feel about the following statements. Encourage them to be as honest as possible.

1 – I like looking in the mirror at myself

2 – I can see the good things about my appearance

3 – I like the way I look

4 – I’m immediately drawn to the things about myself I don’t like

5 – I am beautiful

Explain: Generally we all see something different to what’s real when we look in the mirror. When you go to a fairground and go in the fun houses and you have those mirrors that make you look short or tall or thin or fat we just see them as a bit of fun however in reality we have that same experience when we look in our mirrors at home.

We’re either drawn to the things we don’t like about ourselves or we think we’re fatter than we are…in fact with people who suffer with anorexia even if they’re fitting into children’s clothes they still see someone in the mirror who’s fat which is why they try and eat less and less in order to be thinner.

The bible backs this up too! 1 Corinthians 13:12 says

‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know  in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.


Ask: What do you think we mean by the word identity?

Explain: Our identity is what we think of ourselves. It’s who are are. If we think we’re fat then whilst it might not be true it’s part of our identity, it makes up who we are and what we believe.

When we see all the things the world tells us about how we find our identity in them. We base who we are and who we want to be on those things…on wanting to be thinner, or have different coloured hair, or look like our favourite celebrity whether it’s David Beckham or Katy Perry.

But the bible says that God created us

Think about that for a minute. The God who created our world, who created everything in it…who created the most beautiful views and tiniest of creatures created you too.

Reflection: Play the track ‘Mirrors’ to encourage the young people to think about what God thinks of them and what the bible says about us.

To Close: Hand each young person a piece of paper and invite them to write their name on it. Encourage them to write something positive about themselves then pass their paper round, folding over what they’ve wrote. Everyone will write something positive about everyone.

Encourage the young people to pin these pieces of paper up somewhere or to tuck them into their bible to remind themselves that they are beautiful!