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Self Image/Body Image/Identity

Session Aims: To explore the ideas that we have about ourselves and to look at what God says about who we are.

Items Needed: Laptop with webcam and photo effects software (ideally Apple Mac with Photobooth), post-it notes, pens, paper, some gossip magazines, the mirrors mp3 track (The background track is by Mind Things and is called Shared Lonliness – band link), Luke 4 Study, the Radio 1 Airbrushed Images

As people arrive: Have an Apple Mac or iPad wired up through a television if possible with ‘Photobooth’ loaded up and encourage the young people to play around with it. (Photobooth allows you to mess around with image effects live much like distorted mirrors at a fairground would).

Opening: Encourage people to share their names (if there’s someone new this is especially useful) and also which of the pictures of themselves they like the most and why (from the effected ones).

Celebrity Guessing: Give each young people a post-it note on their head with the name of a celebrity on. They must go around and ask 1 question per person (of the yes or no variety) to find out who their celebrity is.

Introduction: Explain that tonight we’ll be looking at body image, exploring what the world says but also what God says about us and how we should feel about ourselves in light of how God feels about us.

Activity: Have some pens and paper around and invite young people to draw a very rough self outline of themselves. In that outline invite them to write things about themselves both good and bad, it might be looks, talents, characteristics or talents.

Ask: When you think about yourself or body image are you drawn first to the things you don’t like or the things you do like? Why do you think you’re drawn to this first?

Explain: The things we do and don’t like about ourselves are often things that we do or don’t like because of what we’ve been told or what the media around us says. If you look at glossy fashion magazines it’s not unusual to see an unflattering photo of a celebrity on holiday talking about how much weight they’ve put on when in reality they’re only a size 14…the iconic actress, singer and model Marilyn Monroe (who’s heard of her?) was a size 16!

For us to have a good image of ourselves and to focus on the good things we need to build up our identity from the right sources especially when a lot of what we see in magazines isn’t real…it’s airbrushed!

Game: Using the Radio 1 airbrushed images to guess which photo is airbrushed and which isn’t – – answers: fake moyles right, fake Dave left, fake Aled right, fake Rachel right, fake Carrie left, fake Dominic right.

Ask: Did the presenters look better or worse are the ‘make-over’? Why? Were any of them more beautiful before? Why? Who defines what beauty is

Bible: Luke 4:1-13 – Split into 2 groups and use the discussion questions before coming back as a larger group and feeding back.

Explain: The way we think about ourselves can affect how we feel and how we behave and so it’s important that we have a healthy self-image and it’s through God’s love that we can find that positive image.

If we look at our body from earlier there’s a mix of things that we’ve written down. Some of them are positive things about ourselves that we like (give some examples) and some are things that we don’t like about ourselves.

We had some fun at the beginning distorting images of ourselves but in reality it’s impossible for us to not have a distorted self image because there’s lots of things that can get in the way of how God sees us.

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:12

Explain: Sometimes our distorted images of ourselves can get in the way of what’s actually true.

Activity: Invite the young people to look at the self portraits they started earlier and decide if the things they wrote are ‘true’, ‘untrue’ or if they don’t know about them. Then encourage them to get into pairs and openly and honestly discuss where these beliefs have come from. (Encourage the young people to tell someone if they don’t think something on their list is true!).

Read: John 8:32

Explain: Sometimes we need to remember that the way we think of ourselves isn’t our God intended…that sometimes the things we dislike about ourselves the most are the things that God intended us to have. God doesn’t create us to all look like body builders or super-models but He creates us uniquely and He loves us

The bible tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8) and it tells us that we have been ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, that ‘God knitted us together in our mother’s wombs’ (Psalm 139).

Closing Worship

Explain: To finish we’re going to listen to a short track. I’d like you to close your eyes and listen to the track and what it’s saying.

Music: Use the ‘Mirrors’ track (available to download for free at the top of this session)

Prayer: Finish the session by praying, asking that God would reveal to us how much He loves us just as we are and that we’d find our identity in Him.