To inform young people about the Orthodox perspective of body image; to stimulate discussions with them about negative and positive body images created within society.

Preparing for the Session

Review the Power Point Presentation and make sure you know at what point you will need to start the discussion. The first part of the power point is meant to run automatically with the young people watching silently as the TLC song "Unpretty" plays. The last few slides are meant to be used during your discussion and will not forward automatically. Become familiar with the presentation so that you know where this transition occurs.

Become familiar with the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord (celebrated on August 6th). Read the gospel passage that is used in the session so that you are prepared to lead the discussion.

Materials Needed

  • Download the Powerpoint Presentation (9 mb).
  • Variety of Pop Culture Magazines (Teen People, Seventeen, etc.)
  • Poster board (1 per group)
  • Glue Sticks (1 per group)
  • Scissors
  • Body Image Power Point Presentation
  • LCD Projector or television hook up cable
  • CD Player
  • CD of TLC song “Unpretty”
  • Paper & Pens
  • Flipchart and Markers
  • Opening and Closing Prayer (1 per person)

Opening Prayer

Consider teaching them to chant this hymn

You were transfigured upon the mount, O Christ our God, and Your disciples, in so far as they could bear, beheld Your glory. Thus, when they see You crucified, they may understand Your voluntary passion, and proclaim to the world that You are truly the reflection of the Father.
- Kontakion of the Transfiguration

Opening Activity

Break young people into groups of 4-5 people. Give each group several magazines, a piece of poster board, glue and scissors.

Ask the groups to construct the perfect male and female using images from the magazine.

Have each group present their creations to the group. Do not have any discussion at this time. As they present, write down the traits that they consider perfect on the flip chart. Tape this sheet on a wall for reference to during the discussion.

After all the groups have presented, have them watch the power point presentation. Pass out paper and pens. When the automatic portion of the power point presentation concludes on the icon of final Jesus (before quotes), ask young people to focus for a minute on the icon and then write down the traits they see in the image of Christ. Give them several minutes to do this before beginning to discuss.


Accept all answers and reflect back

  • What traits did you see in looking at this image of Christ? (write on flipchart all answers)
  • How do these differ from the traits the media presents? (reference the list you made earlier)


Advance power point to slide with this quote

In the 1st chapter of Genesis it states “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

  • What does this mean?
  • Take a moment and look at these traits of Christ and write on your paper which traits you see in yourself. (allow a minute of silence)
  • Was this hard? Why or Why not?


Paraphrase in your own words

In this world, we often focus on our image being like the traits that the media presents to us. Face it they paint a pretty picture… if we look like them, act like them and talk like them our lives will be perfect like theirs are. But the only problem is it is only a picture… it isn't real. Even those who society has deemed perfect struggle. As Orthodox Christians, we are created in the image and likeness of Christ. We need to look to the image of Christ, as He was the only perfect person to ever live, which is in each an everyone of us.

  • What is the difference between image and likeness?
    (we are created in the image of God we strive to be in His likeness)
  • So, if His image is within all of us, what prevents us from being His likeness? (write answers on flipchart)


Matthew 17:1-8
After six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John His brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” When the disciples heard this they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.


Accept all answers and reflect back

  • What is happening in this passage?
  • Does anyone know when this gospel passage is read?
    (at the Feast of the Transfiguration….advance slide to icon)
  • What is this feast day about?
    (It was on this day that Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John as the glory of His divinity flashed through His body and His clothing. This glory was always with Jesus. The wonder of it was that it was repressed. Jesus did not add anything to his nature at the Transfiguration that He did not always possess. He merely revealed Who He already was. He was always divine and at the Transfiguration His divine glory was revealed. It flashed through His physical body. -from Coniaris Daily Vitamins for Spiritual Growth)


So, Christ was transfigured, revealing the glory that was within Him. Christ lives in each of us and therefore, we must transfigure ourselves to reveal the glory (Christ) that is within us. This is true beauty. It isn't about being the perfect size having just the right nose, or good hair. It has to do with what is inside of us.

How can we develop this likeness?

Wrap up

To wrap up, I want to read you a quote from St. Makarios. When I am done reading, I want you to take 5 minutes to write some thoughts down about how you feel about the image of Christ in you and how you can bring out His likeness. You are writing this for yourself and will not have to share it with anyone if you do not want to. (advance slide to quote)

What is more beautiful than to be with Christ? What is more desirable than his divine glory? Nothing is sweeter than that light which illumines the entire order of men and angels. Nothing is more beloved than that life (of God) in which we all live and move and have our being. There is nothing sweeter than the ever-living beauty, nothing more pleasant than the unceasing gladness. There is nothing more desirable than eternal joy and blessedness, about which no word can suffice to explain or thoughts to comprehend it sublimity and infinity. For how indeed can one speak about what is essentially and inexpressibly beauty?
- St. Makarios

After 5 minutes is up close with this final quote (advance to the final slide)
“...The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7

Closing Prayer

Consider teaching them to chant this hymn

You were transfigured upon the mount, O Christ our God, and Your disciples, in so far as they could bear, beheld Your glory. Thus, when they see You crucified, they may understand Your voluntary passion, and proclaim to the world that You are truly the reflection of the Father.
Kontakion of the Transfiguration

Special Note For Advisors/Youth Workers

Eating disorders and body image issues are something many of our teenagers struggle with. Unless we begin the dialogue, we may not realize how much of a struggle this is for them. If you run into a teenager with an eating disorder, consult with your parish priest. The following websites can also be of assistance:

Contact: Anna Nicole Kyritsis

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