In Girlguiding’s 2014 Girls’ Attitudes survey, 48% of girls aged 11-21 said they felt pressure to go on a diet.
Like many of the girls in the survey I have also felt pressure to lose weight and look thinner, just in order to fit in. I believed it was the key to being happy – despite all evidence to the contrary. And that’s why I think Free Being Me is so important and why I’m so proud to be part of the team of Peer Educators helping to deliver it to girls aged 7-14 all over the UK.
Free Being Me is the newest resource all about being body confident being delivered by Girlguiding’s Peer Educators. We’re all girls aged 14-25 who have been specially trained and believe in its body confidence message.
Some of the things the girls say during sessions can be really shocking, but equally very insightful. One 9 year old Brownie told me that she was going on a diet because she didn’t like how she looked in her leotard at dance class. Worryingly, she’s not alone – 39% of girls aged 11-21, and 4% of those aged 7-10, stop themselves from taking part in fun activities because they feel self-conscious about how they look.
One of my favourite activities from the resource is the ‘Beauty Bubbles’. This encourages the girls to come up with reasons to celebrate themselves because life isn’t all about looks. One of my favourites came from a group of Guides aged 10-14: ‘Every star shines differently’.
Invariably, if I ask any of my groups about healthy eating they all come up with almost the same thing – lots of fruit and vegetables and no chocolate or sweets. Whilst chocolate may not be the best thing for you, cutting it out completely is a bit of an extreme in my opinion; especially at 7 or 8!
Since moving to university I’ve started to think much more about what eating healthily means to me personally. Now that I’m in charge of the food shopping I have much more of a say, but of course with great power comes great responsibility! I play rugby so it’s really important that I eat enough to keep me going on the pitch, and for food to make me happy.
Whilst everyone is different, the one thing that Free Being Me has taught me is that we should celebrate that difference and be happy as we are.