Theater productions help promote healthy body image in children, says study

Previous research suggests that children begin to understand social standards of appearance by age five, and by age six, body dissatisfaction begins to develop in both girls and boys. Professor Swami, a body image expert, was consulted during the development of ‘Cinderella: The Awesome Truth’, which aimed to create a show that could help children develop a positive body image and self-image.

A contemporary new version of the traditional story was developed through workshops with over 200 children. The show covers topics such as body shaming and its effects, managing appearance expectations and concerns, the impact of social media on body image, and the value of friendship in promoting healthy body attitudes and better self-esteem.

Children learn that what makes them “amazing” is what they and their body can do, not what they look like. Researchers recruited 54 girls and 45 boys, and their body appreciation was measured before and after watching the show, which was staged at Wimbledon’s Polka Theater. Participants also answered open questions about their uniqueness and uniqueness.

Research found that body appreciation scores improved for both boys and girls after watching a production. The number of responses making them “unique” or “awesome” also increased after attendance for both boys and girls. Importantly, these improvements were achieved while maintaining universal enjoyment of the show and providing key learning outcomes assessed through qualitative responses from children.

Viren Swamy, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “We know that body and appearance dissatisfaction is associated with harmful health and psychological outcomes, including symptoms of depression, low self-esteem, disordered eating and physical deficiencies. Involve. activity, and it can begin in children as young as six. “Due to social media, children are becoming exposed to unrealistic and unhealthy aspects of body image at an early age.

Therefore, it is important to find new ways to counter these threats by conveying positive messages to young children. We’ve found that theater is a way to successfully talk to young children about looks and positive body image. “It may not be possible to reach all children through the theatre, given the production costs and the constraints in attendance, for example ticket prices.

However, we have shown that there is merit in using theatrical performance to promote healthy body image messages, as well as potentially embedding drama and theater with body image in school-based curricula. ,

Study co-author Sarah Punshon, who wrote and directed Cinderella: The Awsome Truth for One Tenth Human, said: “Children’s theater has enormous potential to promote positive body image.

The interesting story, relatable characters, and use of ‘magic’ and music are all prominent. “Developing the show through deep exploration with children means we can tap into current concerns and desires, and create a story that emphasizes what really makes a person.” What makes them amazing is what they and their bodies can do, not what they look like.

We are particularly pleased that improvements have been achieved for both boys and girls – previous studies have suggested that body image interventions may be less effective for boys,” she said.