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Open Right

Lee Kofman: Every body is different: creating inclusive environment

Session Info:

An interactive talk/workshop.

Recent studies show that body image concerns, including unfavorable self-comparisons to others, and also teasing of peers with visible differences, can begin as early as in kinder years. It is also my belief that the earlier we intervene and challenge children’s ideas about what constitutes an ‘acceptable’ body, the better we can promote body diversity.

As a woman with extensive non-facial scarring acquired during my childhood, and a mother of a child with albinism, I share my own perspective of how life can feel for children who look different. I also discuss what I learned from my own experience not to do with my child, how my son’s upbringing differs from mine. I then prompt a group conversation about how we think about our and other people’s bodies, and how we understand beauty and ugliness. We discuss popular culture’s representations of differences, for example Harry Potter’s facial scar.  My aim is to inspire honest conversation and promote body diversity by helping my audience reflect on our culture’s judgements and preconceived ideas about appearance.

Topics covered:

  • my story of growing up with non-facial scars
  • story of my young son who has albinism
  • discussing we may see bodies as mirrors of people’s character
  • understanding the variety of human bodies and contrasting this variety with cultural representations of bodies in books and film
  • discussing children’s experiences of bodily differences in their families and other environments
  • discussing the idea that everyone has something different about them and that people deal with their differences in a variety of ways (for example, sometimes hiding their differences and sometimes using them for their advantage)
  • brainstorming together the best ways to respond to people’s visible differences

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