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Open Right

Clementine Ford: The Problem Isn’t With Your Body, It’s With Society

Session Info:

Poor body image is the curse of the teenage girl, and if we aren’t careful these demons can follow us into adult life. But how can we silence that critical voice inside our heads and learn to love ourselves just as we are?

This session will use positive reinforcement and pop culture imagery to challenge the idea that there is something ‘wrong’ with us. It will look at the historical and corporate interests that have taught girls and women to shrink ourselves instead of taking up space, and how the diet industry has capitalised on these tactics.

Most importantly, this session reinforces the message that all bodies are good bodies, and that the problem isn’t with how we look but with society’s unreasonable expectations – expectations that are designed to keep us unhappy so that we don’t become the powerful women we’re capable of being.

As someone with a long history of disordered eating and body dysmorphia, I have challenged myself over the years to change that damning narrative that plays inside my head. I want to encourage young women to love their bodies not for how they look, but for all the amazing things they can do. Studies have shown that people feel the most confident about their bodies when they’re engaged in a purpose – but so many girls and women deny their bodies these pleasures for fear of how they look. This session aims to change that.


  • Why do so many young girls learn to hate their bodies at a certain age?
  • What are the connections between the diet industry and poor body image?
  • Why have we demonised the notion of a body that isn’t skinny?
  • Why arguments about ‘real women’ are unhelpful and damaging, because we are all ‘real’ no matter what are size
  • There is no one right kind of body
  • How historical ideals of body shapes have changed dramatically and will change dramatically again, and why this demonstrates there is no innate biological attraction, only a social one
  • What we can do every day to encourage ourselves to feel more positive about our bodies, and to recognise that the only people whose opinions matter are our own
  • How we can be supportive of all girls and women, and why this is absolutely essential

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