The GIRL Curriculum: Co-Constructing Learning About Body Image Through Empowering After-School Programming




co-creation, girls, after-school, extra-curricular, leisure, sport


From a young age, girls experience many influences that may negatively impact how they view their bodies. Many girls are subject to teasing by peers and feel pressure to conform to gender norms. Moreover, the media perpetuates an unattainable and unrealistic image of women, referred to as the ideal female body. Since peers and the media are prominent influences, researchers have implemented curricula as interventions to help girls navigate perceptions of their bodies in a healthy way. Building on prior research, the GIRL curriculum was developed as a semi-structured, co-created curriculum that aimed at engaging girls in critical analysis of media’s representation of female bodies in society. Furthermore, the GIRL curriculum aimed to help girls identify and navigate their possible perceived barriers to physical activity. This curriculum was developed as a response to a lack of resources available for teachers, after-school personnel, and others who work with young girls to engage with the girls about issues of the body in a physically active setting. This program article focuses on the development and implementation of the GIRL curriculum and provides insight, through qualitative analyses, into how a curriculum could help young girls improve their understanding and perception of their bodies and feel empowered. A copy of the co-created curriculum is presented. The researchers urge future practitioners to co-create the curriculum with their participants in order to create opportunities that would allow young girls to view their bodies in a more positive light and feel empowered through a variety of activities.


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