We can no longer ignore young people's body image struggles as 'growing pains'

Posted on Nov 15, 2017

YMCA England & Wales, a founding partner of the Be Real Campaign, responds to the British Youth Council's Select Committee report on body image.

The British Youth Council's Select Committee launched its 'A Body Confident Future' report at an event in Parliament today ( 15 November), urging the Government to recognise the seriousness of body image fears.

As part of the evidence gathering for the report, the committee heard from expert witnesses, including bloggers, social-media companies, teachers and mental-health professionals, how body image struggles affect young people. The Be Real Campaign was among several organisations providing oral evidence, which is reflected in the recommendations to Government. 

The committee's key recommendations in the report include: 

  • Address current knowledge gaps, especially about body image in pre-adolescents
  • Develop resources for groups other than women, who are targeted in most current campaigns
  • Introduce an annual National Body Confidence week
  • Appoint a Government Equalities Office minister
  • Hold workshops with the Be Real campaign and major brands to increase uptake of its Body Image Pledge

Denise Hatton, YMCA England & Wales Chief Executive, said:

“Young people have made it clear that body image is a serious issue and we can no longer afford to ignore this as ‘growing pains’.

“While some progress has been made, we know that social media and advertising still play a massive role in how people feel about their bodies and we need much more than just charity campaigning to make a real change.

“One off advertising campaigns featuring diverse, real people simply doesn’t cut it and we need everyone to commit to taking body confidence seriously. This is why we launched the Body Image Pledge, asking industries to make an official commitment to portraying healthy body image.

“While some organisations have come on board, its crucial government plays a role in tackling body image anxiety as rightly highlighted in today’s report. Not only by ensuring that their own communications meet the standards set out in the Body Image Pledge but also by encouraging businesses to follow suit.”

For more information and to download a copy of 'A Body Confident Future', visit the British Youth Council's website

Download the ‘A Body Confident Future’ report for further information.