Am I Good Enough: Self-Image and Art

What are our Children Feeling?

What are our Children Feeling

Education of the whole child continues to be a key element in creating a safe, caring and respectful school and community environment. It has been a struggle to find a balance between the social and emotional, the physical-self, teaching and learning in order to educate the whole child. What are the strategies we are using to help all our students find as Dr. Brooks refers to our ‘Islands of Competence’? What are the outside pieces hindering our journey to help every one of our students understand they are capable and valued people and learners.

Girls’ inner critics are starting to reveal themselves at a younger and younger age. And body image issues are an aspect of their lives which is causing them low self esteem and day-to-day suffering. 

Elizabeth Berkley



On Thursday and Friday our school had Sarah Swan present two half-day sessions for our Grade 7 and 8 girls called ‘It is hard being a Girl’. Having the opportunity to go through the evaluations of the girls, it is striking not only the insight they have but the enormous pressures they are feeling in understanding their self-worth. Sarah Swan is an artist, author (Sarah Gordon-Rapture Red & Smoke Grey, served in the military as a field medic, traveller, Facilitator of Art Talk on First Fridays in the Exchange and mother). Sarah uses Art to facilitate conversations about the pressures facing our girls in regards to self-image. I met Sarah when she facilitated an Art-Talk in regards to Andrew Valko and  I recommend reading her article entitled “Artists work of female nudes convey dark societal theme” found in the Winnipeg Free Press on July 2, 2013. In her article she quotes Valko as saying “Some of the nudity in the work is there to support the narrative of the paintings. Through my work, I am making a comment about our cultural practice of objectification rather than becoming just another example of it.”

The Chat Room Andrew Valko

The Chat Room
Andrew Valko

Through using a variety of Art, Sarah is able to lead young girls through a presentation that helps them understand the struggles of creating the many ‘masks’ they feel they need to have in order to be valued. The pressures of media, peers and the images of ‘what girls are supposed to look like’ is hindering their journey to understand their ‘Islands of Competence.’ A few examples of the students’ feedback is:

  • Sometimes I feel like I am not good enough, I feel alone
  • Everyone thinks I am happy, people don’t know I feel this way
  • I don’t have confidence in myself-I don’t like the way I look
  • Celebrities think they need to show their bodies on social media and it probably isn’t them
  • We are all hiding who we are so no one knows how we feel
  • We have to be sexy

The striking piece is these statements are from our Grade 7 girls. Should we be concerned that so many of our young girls’ self-worth is linked to looks rather than other characteristics?

  • Your presentation was amazing it made my day. I’m sure you are helping lots of girls including me.
  • I learned I shouldn’t post naked pictures of myself on the internet
  • I think this helped everyone in the room in a different way
  • Every girl should try to be themselves not anyone else

As we watch our students, our children walk into our building, sit in our classrooms, the lunch tables, go out into the community what are the ways we can connect with each of them in a positive way so that we can help every child see themselves as a learner, as important for who they are and what they bring to our community.

I Suck at Everything

I Suck at Everything

Boys and boys’ body image and clothes have become just as important an issue for boys as for girls.

Rosalind Wiseman

Excerpt from Sarah Gordon’s (Sarah Swan) book Rapture Red & Smoke Grey

Sarah Swan

Sarah Swan

And then God said to me

there is a thing called fearlessness

when your skin and your eyes

flash from one temperature to

another, and in the instant you

know you are capable of giving

over all days and years- all minutes

of your living and dying and tearing

at things with your hands

for they are not yours anyway.

you are made of restraint, and

unrestraint, the space that breathes

between walls that heave and buckle

you are made of tightening strings

as stretched on a violin that sings and screeches a non-orchestra

of wild and hurting sounds.

you are made of limits, and the few

steps just after them that feel so free

and careful

and you are made of retreat, and looking


Do not look back, for there are things

stronger than fondness and regret-

there are things for you to tear down

and conquer, there are ruins to stand in

and weep over

the smoke wthat rises will billow long

through old window3s

and then there will be

new work to do.

About jameswhoddinott

My novel 'When Eagles Dare to Fly' represents my belief that good will always triumph over evil and by developing who we are on the inside we will find our way. My newest novel 'The Fates' was released earlier this year that examines a society that discovers immortality. I have a blog called an 'Author, blogger and his musings' which talks about my writing, political issues as well as other areas of interest like education, art and photography,
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