Artist: Roisin Anderson
Body Image Workshops
Oxford Against Cutting offers body image workshops to address the increasing social pressures put on girls to look a certain way and, in some cases, pay for facial fillers or other “tweakments” or alter their genitalia. Dr Brenda Kelly, our Patron, has observed that her colleagues at the John Radcliffe Hospital have seen a sharp rise in young girls requesting cosmetic genital surgery. With the influence of pornography and social media, ideas around “normal” bodies have changed significantly in recent years and increasing numbers of girls are seeking surgery to achieve a “perfect” appearance.
Oxford Against Cutting has created a unique course for young people in sixth form to learn about the influence of online imagery and how to use their smart phones in a way that is positive for mental health. You can read all about our Body Image Smart Phone workshop series here.
We offer the following lessons on body image:
The Ideal Beauty Standard (Year 7 and older)
This workshop explores consumer culture and the influence this has on body image and mental health in our society. The workshop uses examples to show how the beauty industry profits from women’s insecurities and shows why beauty standards will always be ‘unrealistic’. The workshop will help students to understand how social media and advertising make us more insecure, supporting students to instead feel empowered to resist the pressure to conform to beauty standards. Finally, the workshop will allow students to feel confident talking to a friend or trusted adult about concerns, and getting help.
Pornography and Cosmetic Body Alterations (Year 9 or older)
This workshop is designed to help students better understand the pornography industry and it’s influence on body image and sexual relationships. The workshop will help students to think more critically about the industry and resist the influence that it could have on their own lives and relationships. The workshop also explores cosmetic body alterations, looking at why there has been a rise in alterations (especially in young people) and the laws around them. The workshop aims to highlight the harms cosmetic body alterations can cause and to empower students to feel confident in their bodies as they are. Finally, the workshop will allow students to feel confident talking to a friend or trusted adult about concerns, and getting help.
‘The Pornography Industry’ Workshop (Year 10 or older)
This workshop is designed to help students better understand the mainstream pornography industry and the harms it can have on people both within the industry and on consumers. The session aims at busting myths or ideas that have become normalised as a result of unregulated and easily accessible content on the internet. For example, a lot of pornography suggests that all bodies should look a certain way or that it’s not normal to wear a condom. The workshop will help students to think more critically about the industry and resist the influence that it could have on their own lives and relationships.
The Female Genitalia ( Sixth Form / college level)
This workshop will cover the names and functions of the female genitalia and why it’s important to learn about them. The workshop looks at some common misconceptions around things like virginity, discharge and female pleasure. Students are taught about two types of alterations to the female genitalia: female genital mutilation (FGM) and female cosmetic genital surgery. The workshop will support students to look at both of these in the context of gender equality and the reasons, harms and the UK laws around each of them. Finally, the workshop will allow students to feel confident talking to a friend or trusted adult about concerns, and get help.
Testimonials from Abingdon and Witney College where 8 workshops have been delivered:
“The lesson made me feel more confident talking about these issues”
“The lesson taught me to feel more comfortable with my body”
“I learnt about FGM, what it is, where it happens, why it happens”
“I learnt that you should be proud of your body and it does not matter what others think”
Read the evaluation of our body image project here, from 2019
You can also read our latest Body Image report, June 2021