11 Arts Inspired Activities to Teach About Self-Esteem, Body Image and Eating Disorders

With the new school year upon us, I thought I'd list in one handy place the array of arts and mindfulness activities available to teach about self-esteem, body image and eating disorders.

1.  Be the first to pilot the Healthy Selfitude curriculum before it is published and share your feedback on the efficacy of some of the exercises.  Start with the "Rainbow of Feelings" exercise which encourages kids to learn an array of feelings -- watch the rainbow come to life! (I will send you some free exercises, e-mail me!)

2.  License nor.mal: the musical and present it in your school.  This single tool has led to more individuals, families and communities learning about eating disorders than any we have ever been a part of.  Learn more at www.normal-musical.com.

3.  Three Word Stories help individuals share their journey -- whether it is a topic of identity, body image or self-acceptance this is a surprisingly challenging activity!  Incorporate multi-media and create a mashup or send to NORMAL In Schools to publish on our site!

4.  Hold a discussion about what norms are facing us in today's culture, then ask students to film a vlog entry about what they wish the NEW NORM would be.  Instead of living in a society filled with pressure and fast-paced living, what could the NEW NORM be?  Qualifying submissions will be shared on our What-Is-Normal blog OR -- better yet -- encourage kids to create their own blog about it (and please let us know so we can promote it!)

5.  Start each class with a quick and easy relaxation, mindfulness exercise or beginner level meditation.  Notice the immediate effects of being in the present moment.  Aside from clinical evidence showing that mindfulness, deep breathing and meditation reduces heart rate and anxiety, we also know it is a fabulous stress management tool.  Learn more with the free Mindfulness Guide or contact me for exercise ideas.

6.  Host your own Self Esteem Stomp.  The event begins with a fun walk for the whole family.  This easy one-mile or three-mile route allows individuals to join in at any level.  Throughout the walk, individuals read empowering signs about self-esteem and healthy body image.  The event ends with an interactive learning area where families can learn experiential arts, yoga, and other coping strategies.  A great way to engage the entire community in a powerful learning program.

7.  Create a gallery of artwork that showcases healthy body image and positive identity.  Tired of seeing the same negative messages of beauty -- create your own new, empowering messages!  Please let us know so we can feature them on our site and in our newsletter.

8.  Host your own poetry "jam" -- rather than a poetry slam or competition, come up with a creative poetry "concert" that encourages individuals to write creative works that showcase healthy body image, self-esteem and acceptance.  Encourage the writers (or even local performers, musicians and others) to speak the pieces aloud in a concert setting.  So inspiring!

9.  Screen "ED 101" -- NIS's new educational tool which will be available in the next month.  This piece is 25 minutes long and contains arts footage, Broadway performances and powerful stories of eating disorders.  It is an ideal learning tool when paired with a panel of clinicians who can speak about eating disorders and other mental health issues.  Check back on our website's Online Educational Film page for latest release details.

10.  Consider hosting an array of NIS Seminars.  Check this list for more information.  

11.  This handy handout is an interactive form with 9 ideas for NEDAwareness Programming (some of the above are included).


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