A little self-appreciation, please

On Friday, I head back to school.  I’ll have 45 students in my seminar and we’ll spend 3 hours together every Friday morning discussing body image, how it is formed, why it matters, what can be done to improve it on a micro and macro level.  They’ll write papers, like their very first assignment: a body image autobiography.  They will go on a media diet (the only time dieting is okay, in my opinion- well, actually, I also approve of spending diets) and then tell me all about the torture I inflicted on them with that assignment.  They will analyze magazines from cover lines to ads.  They will, I hope, develop a critical eye towards the messaging they receive and an increasing confidence in their ability to discern what is right for them. 

But it all starts with that autobiography.  On Friday, I’ll walk in wearing my purple linen dress (already picked out, yes) and with a stack of papers to hand out and after we all introduce ourselves, sharing why we’re there and the last movie we saw, we’ll review the body image autobiography assignment.  And while I’ll move on to having them mince words over what body image means, what impacts it, etc, they’ll be thinking in the back of their minds aboutr how they are going to answer these questions I have posed to them. 

Here is what I will have told them to start out explaining the assignment:  Self-awareness is a powerful thing, especially in light of body image.  The more you know and understand about yourself, the more prepared you are to address your own body image issues.  The autobiogrpahy is created to help you gain self-awareness.  There are no right or wrong answers— only the need to explore and consider deeply rather than superficially.  This exercise is for you.  Don’t write anything to impress.  Answer the questions quickly, instinctively, without forcing anything.  If you can’t come up with an answer for one of the questions, move on, and then come back to it. 

And then they’ll see these first two questions.  Simple enough on the surface, but maybe so complicated for some of them underneath:

Describe yourself. 

 What do you most appreciate about yourself?  About what are you most confident? 

So, in the spirit of beginnings, a spirit that washes over me every late August as people of all ages go back to school, I pose question number 2 to you:

What do you most appreciate about yourself?  About what are you most confident?

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