Body Inclusivity Tip Sheet

Creating a weight and body neutral school is an ongoing process. By implementing these tips, you can contribute to fostering a supportive and inclusive school environment. One where all students feel valued, respected, and empowered.

Instead ofDoRationale
Ignoring and minimizing comments or jokes about weight, body shape, or appearance
Encourage students to intervene and stand up for their peers if they witness body shaming or weight-based bullying
Establish and enforce a zero-tolerance policy for body shaming and weight-based bullying
Weight-based comments and body shaming  is a form of bullying and harassment. This is often reported as the most frequent type of bullying experienced by students. This type of bullying can lead to depression, negative body image, poor self-esteem, and weight preoccupation. These symptoms, if persistent, can lead to disordered eating.
Using only images that represent socially desirable physical appearances or typical beauty ideals and standards (e.g., thin, muscular)Include diverse representations of bodies, races, genders, and abilities in resources used to support classroom and whole school activities and lessonsUsing diverse images can help students of all body sizes and weights, races, genders, and abilities to feel represented and included. This can contribute to them feeling an increased sense of belonging and improving self-esteem.
Weighing students or having them calculate their Body Mass Index (BMI)Create lesson plans and activities that teach the curriculum and do not include weight. For example, have students consider how eating habits and food choices, including behaviours (e.g., mindful eating, enjoying your food, choosing a variety of foods, awareness of food marketing, using food labels, making water your drink of choice more often) contribute to their physical health and mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing (e.g., provides more energy, helps the body develop to full physical potential, increases self-esteem). Weighing students or using BMI is not part of the Ontario curriculum. 
Making comments about your own appearance or the appearance of othersTalk about your own abilities, character, behaviour, and other areas that you excel and encourage students to do the same

Compliment students on their abilities, character, behaviour, and other areas that they excel 
Encourage students to express their thoughts, feelings, and questions about body image
Foster open discussions that allow for differing viewpoints while promoting respect and empathy
When an adult talks about their own weight, body size, or shape, students might internalize what they hear (e.g., “I heard my teacher talking about being unhappy with the way they look, does that mean that I should be concerned about how I look?)
Making comments about the food choices of yourself or others (e.g., talking about “dieting”, saying you “were bad” for eating a certain food, commenting on the food choices of a student)Use food neutral language. Call foods by their name (e.g., broccoli, hamburger, cookie, apple) instead of using categories like “good/bad”, “healthy/unhealthy”, “everyday/sometimes” or “junk food”.
Where applicable, provide students with opportunities to try a variety of foods and to learn about food skills.
When adults talk about their eating habits or food choices, students might internalize what they hear (e.g., “I heard my coach talking about going on a diet. That must mean I should go on a diet”)

When adults label foods with positive or negative associations, kids can transfer those feelings towards themselves. They may feel guilt or shame about eating (or not eating) certain foods.
Asking students to view current media messages for assignments or lesson plans
Help students develop critical thinking skills to analyze media messages
Help them understand how this perpetuates weight bias, stigma, and discrimination
Discuss the impact of media, advertisements, and social media on body perception
Having the skills to be a critical consumer of media empowers students and improves their self-esteem.
Having students download apps or visit websites that track their food intake
Offer experiential learning opportunities in the classroom so that students can be exposed to a variety of foods

Use scenarios that talk about where, when, and how we eat based on the principles in Canada’s food guide (e.g., the grade 8 curriculum states: evaluate personal eating habits and food choices on the basis of the recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide, taking into account behaviours that support healthy eating (e.g., mindful eating, enjoying your food, choosing a variety of healthy foods, awareness of food marketing, using food labels, making water your drink of choice more often) [A1.1 Emotions, 1.2 Coping, 1.5 Self, 1.6 Thinking]).
Having students track their food intake can contribute to preoccupation with food and lead to disordered eating or eating disorders. Further, when students download apps or visit websites, this activity is tracked and influences advertisements and other content that they will see.

Some students may be experiencing food insecurity which means their household is not able to afford enough food. Asking students to track their food intake can draw emphasis to this. This can create feelings of embarrassment and shame among those experiencing it.  

Using apps or websites to track food intake is not a recommendation of the Ontario curriculum.
Accepting the typical equipment that is provided and having a “one size fits all” classroom/schoolAdvocate to have chairs, desks, uniforms, and equipment that are inclusive of all body shapes, sizes, and weightsAdvocating for inclusive equipment, uniforms, etc. helps create a weight and body inclusive school.
Teaching about eating disorders and disordered eatingTeach about body image and self-esteem as outlined in the curriculumTeaching about eating disorders and disordered eating is harmful as it can create a preoccupation with weight, shape, and size. This can lead to attempting to alter or control weight using harmful methods.
Making assumptions about students based on their weight or appearanceReflect on how your own views about weight, shape, and size may contribute to bias
Challenge stereotypes and assumptions you may have about weight, shape, and size
Seek out opportunities to learn about body image, weight stigma, and inclusive practices
Critical steps to create a weight and body inclusive school include:
reflecting and challenging your own biases 
challenging stereotypes and the narrow views of body and weight ideals, and 
learning about body image, weight stigma, and body inclusive schools