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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jewett

Not a pretty picture – young people and body image

A report on the state of people’s body image in the UK based on a survey this July with 7,900 children, young people and adults was published on 22 September by the Women and Equalities Committee. Changing The Perfect Picture: An Inquiry Into Body Image looks at what influences people’s feelings about their appearance and how to improve people’s body image on a national level.

Let’s zero in on what the report discovered about children and young people…

1) Most people feel negative about their body image most of the time

  • 66% of children (and 61% of adults) feel negative or very negative about their body image most of the time

  • 65% of under-18s (and 45% of adults) think there is an “ideal” body type

Children aged 11+ say they or their friends struggle with low self-esteem, mental-health problems and eating disorders. Young people feel insecure about their body shape, weight, muscle size, skin and hair, among other things. Influences on their insecurities include social media and celebrities, friends and family, being weighed at school and edited pictures.

“It’s not only women and it’s men too. [Body image] affects everything and it sucks” – boy aged 15-17

“I am a Brownie leader and am concerned about young girls who are influenced negatively by their parents. Aged 7-10 they should be playing and exploring, not dyeing hair and worrying about body weight and how they look” – woman aged 55+

“Everybody in today’s society has that ‘ideal’ body image in their head that they want. But that shouldn’t be the case. Recently I have seen more things about body positivity but the negative still overpowers it” – girl aged 11-14