Express Yourself!
A Body Image Program for Girls

The Robert Crown Center has developed the innovative program Express Yourself! to help girls overcome concerns about their body image. The proactive approach teaches young girls how to adjust to changes in a positive way and feel good about their own bodies as they mature, despite the barrage of the media’s unhealthy messages and role models. The program helps youth develop an individual positive sense of self and learn effective strategies to respond to peer and media pressures. Through this program, RCC is adding an affirming voice into the mix of input that young people receive regarding their bodies.


About Express Yourself! The program is facilitated by an RCC Health Educator to an audience of primarily sixth grade girls, but can be adapted to fifth or seventh grade. Express Yourself! is based upon Illinois State health learning standards, and address the topics of body image and self-esteem. RCC Educators engage students in discussion and creative activities to help construct a positive body image through the topics of healthy decision-making, media awareness, and self-expression. Express Yourself! also features a journal for girls to complete at home, either on their own or with family members or friends. Girls will receive the journal at the conclusion of the program.

Activities/skills acquired include:

  • Through an interactive activity, students learn how the opinions of their peers may influence their decision making skills.
  • Students identify how women are normally portrayed in the media and develop media literacy skills.
  • Students develop skills to continually improve their self-esteem including adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
  • Students learn the benefits of positive thinking, respect (including self-respect), challenging themselves, goal setting, and positive self-expression.

What is body image and why is it so important? Body Image is a combination of a person’s feelings and thoughts about their body. A healthy body image is critical to establishing good health. A poor self-image, lack of confidence, and social problems are precursors to many poor health habits; these habits include eating disorders, drug abuse, early sex, teenage pregnancy, alcohol, tobacco abuse, and violence.

Goals of Express Yourself!

  1. Students will learn the factors that influence body image and self-esteem.
  2. Students will learn how body image and self-esteem play an important role in developing critical thinking skills to positively navigate media messages and peer influences that may negatively impact their behavior, eating habits, self-esteem, and decision making.
  3. Students will develop tools and communication skills, including self-expression, that support positive feelings about who they are and build self-esteem.

Express Yourself! for Boys How strong? How athletic? Boys too, experience cultural pressures linked to body image. Express Yourself! serves as an effective follow-up class to the Michael and Linda puberty programs.

Express Yourself! can be presented as a one-time (one hour) program or in six after school  sessions as an Express Yourself! Club. Register for Express Yourself!