New research reveals that 10% of secondary school pupils have thought about having aesthetic procedures in a bid to change their looks.
And experts suggest that bombarding young people with images of the ‘perfect’ body is putting them under undue pressure to match this.
With children, on average, being given their first phone at the age of 11, social media and exposure to celebrities is happening earlier than ever before with ‘unparalleled access to social media’.
With four in five 11-16 year olds revealing that how they look is important to them, the Be Real Campaign is keen to encourage teachers to discuss body image in the classroom.
The Campaign – founded by the YMCA and Dove – has just published a toolkit to help schools engage with pupils, 30% of whom refuse to take part in certain activities due to the way they look and 52% regularly fretting about their appearance.
The Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools aims to help those teachers who struggle to discuss the topics of body confidence in the classroom.
The poll also suggests that, out of the 2,000 surveyed, more than one third would consider doing ‘whatever it takes to look good’, with many acutely aware of how they appear to others.
And celebrity and social media came under the spotlight, with the report revealing that: ‘While some rejected them completely, others cited celebrities as sources of inspiration. The majority of these young people did not seek inspiration from high-end fashion models, but instead from the reality TV stars and celebrities that more frequently surrounded them.’
It notes: ‘While the pressures arising from sources such as advertising, fashion, music and celebrities vary, it was clear from speaking to young people that constantly bombarding them with images of ‘perfection’ was having a largely detrimental impact on their body confidence, and often fuelled body image anxiety.’
When it comes to social media activity, the report says: ‘While usage will depend on the individual, it is clear that technology has meant that young people now have unparalleled access to social media and messaging platforms. Indeed, young people aged seven to 16 years old are now reported to spend three hours online each day. While this is not likely to be exclusively on social media and messaging platforms, it does illustrate the dominance of technology and the internet on their lives.
‘The dominant role that social media and messaging platforms can play in affecting the self-esteem of a young person was also illustrated by the importance many young people placed on the “likes” they got for a photo. Certainly, many young people reported feeling that their ‘like’ count was indicative of their self-worth, with some reporting feeling anxiety when photos do not gain a certain level of praise among their social network contacts.’
The Be Real believes teacher are perfectly placed to hold positive discussions about body image and to reduce the amount of negativity surrounding it.