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Report says body image should be taught in schools


Brogan Driscoll
WVoN co-editor 

A cross party group of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK have said in a report published yesterday that body image lessons should be given in school.

“Reflections on Body Image”, written in conjunction with the health and education charity, Central YMCA, revealed that girls as young as five worry about their weight and appearance.

It revealed that over half the UK public suffer from a negative body image, seen as an underlying cause of health and relationship problems, a key contributor to low self-esteem and a major barrier to participation in school and progression at work.

It found that children and adolescents are the groups who are the most susceptible to concerns about body image, as they are highly likely to pick up on their parents’  insecurities and peer pressure.

Looks are the most common cause of bullying in schools with 50% of young girls having dieted to lose weight.

It found that media, advertising and celebrity culture together account for almost three quarters of the influence on body image in society, yet the “body ideal” that they typically present is not physically achievable by nearly 95% of the population.

Body image expert and recovered bulimic Natasha Devon agrees that the issue needs to be addressed in schools.

Co-director of the Body Gossip campaign and founder of award-winning educational programme Gossip School, she has been visiting schools across the country conducting self-esteem classes since 2008.

“My lesson’s core message is that, however you look or are, you can only be the best version of yourself, which is so much better than chasing some arbitrary beauty paradigm,” she told the Times Education Supplement.

“By the end of the class, I hope I have been able to give them a fresh perspective – one that will put them on the road to self-acceptance and to knowing they can do anything they set their minds to.”

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