Oxford Against Cutting has developed a body image workshop to address the increasing social pressures put on young people to look a certain way and, in some cases, alter their genitalia.
OAC works closely with our Patron, Dr Brenda Kelly, Consultant Obstetrician and Founder/Director of the Oxford Rose Clinic for FGM survivors. Dr Kelly observed that her colleagues at the John Radcliffe Hospital had seen a sharp rise in young girls requesting cosmetic genital surgery. With the influence of pornography, ideas around “normal” genitalia have changed significantly in recent years and increasing numbers of girls are seeking surgery to achieve “perfect” genitals.
Dr Kelly brought together a group of medical experts (“the medics team”) and OAC to brainstorm the creation of schools’ resources to help address these issues in a broader context of body image.
Our body image workshops explore the pressures that platforms such as social media put on us to look a certain way and aims to show that social media, pornography and other influencers are often unrealistic representations of reality.
Students are encouraged to think about questions like…
‘What is the natural appearance and function of female genitalia?’
‘Where do ideas about how genitals “should” look come from?’
The workshop gives students the opportunity to think about where these societal pressures are coming from, and looks at how many of the cultural reasons for carrying out FGM are similar to the cultural pressures that underpin female cosmetic genital surgery.
The workshop highlights the natural diversity of female genitalia and aims to increase students’ overall body confidence, as well as raising awareness of harmful cultural practices that change genitalia.
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.