Dove calls for Body Confidence Education to be a part of the National Curriculum

Posted on Oct 15, 2014

Call to tackle confidence crisis in the next generation as part of the Be Real Campaign Body Confidence Week


As Founding Partner of  Be Real: Body Confidence for Everyone, a campaign to change attitudes to body image, Dove is calling on education leaders to tackle the confidence crisis in the next generation by putting body confidence education on the national curriculum from Key Stage 3. The call, as part of Body Confidence Week, forms part of Dove’s long term commitment to improving self-esteem in the UK, and the brand’s involvement in the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, chaired by MP Caroline Nokes.  


With half (47%) of 11-14 year old girls opting out of everyday activities such as swimming and speaking up in class because they don’t like how they look, Dove wants to encourage all young people to develop a positive relationship with their appearance to raise self-esteem and thereby enable them to realise their full potential.


Research to mark the launch of the Be Real campaign suggests the way people look is having a detrimental impact on their personal relationships and achievements. Three quarters (73%) of adults agree the UK is suffering from a body confidence epidemic, 90% think issues relating to body image are not improving and seven in ten (71%) agree that children in particular are under unbearable pressure about the way they look.


These issues start young, with one in five girls of primary school age saying they have been on a diet, 38% of girls aged 11-to-21 say they have sometimes skipped meals to help lose weight and one in four girls aged between 11-to-21 saying they would consider cosmetic surgery.


As Founding Partner of the Be Real Campaign, we believe it is unacceptable that more than half the UK population suffers from body image anxiety. It’s a critical public health issue that causes depression, health and relationship problems, poor participation in school and lack of progression at work” said Lucy Attley, Dove UK Brand Director. “Through the Dove Self Esteem Project we have reached over 145,000 young lives in the UK with our PSHE-accredited self-esteem workshops in schools over the past ten years. This has shown that body confidence education within schools has a long lasting, positive impact on young people which can transform their adult lives. Working with the Be Real Campaign, we call on education leaders to prioritise the incorporation of an evidence-based body confidence education programme into the national curriculum to tackle these issues head on and make a lasting impact on self-esteem in the UK.


Dr Pooky Knightsmith, PSHE and child mental health expert, said, “The transformative power of body confidence education for young people makes it as necessary on the national curriculum as traditional lessons Science and English. Talking about body image can be uncomfortable and so it can be incredibly compelling when pupils have the opportunity to hear their peers speak out loud about what’s really going on in their lives, where there’s often a huge gap between perception and reality. Body confidence education in schools will help to shrink this gap and help develop confidence for future generations.


As part of Body Confidence Week, Dove held a roundtable discussion chaired by Deborah Potts from the YMCA where the question of whether body confidence education should be on the national curriculum was posed to leading commentators on the subject including Carrie Longton, Mumsnet founder; Dr Pooky Knightsmith, PSHE expert and Phillippa Diedrichs, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) at the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK.


Be Real has been founded in partnership with Dove and is coordinated by YMCA. It is sponsored by Bare Minerals, Debenhams, Facebook, Forster Communications, Government Equalities Office, N Brown, New Look, Superdrug and YMCA, with All Walks Beyond the Catwalk as a lead ambassador. It was formed in response to the 2012 Reflections on Body Image report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Body Image and responds to the growing urgency for change.

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