Body confidence pack for parents backed by government

Mother with children looking at body image pack The pack is part of the government's body confidence campaign launched in 2010

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A pack to help parents educate children on how the media alters images and to inspire them to be confident in their bodies has had government backing.

Developed for six to 11-year-olds by not-for-profit organisation Media Smart, the pack contains before and after touched-up images of celebrities such as Britney Spears.

It also looks at how ideas of the "perfect" body have changed.

The government said it wanted the pack to "empower parents".

The body image parent pack - which can be downloaded for free - gives tips to parents on how to talk to children about the subject and stresses the notion that the so-called perfect body, and the emphasis on being thin, is a "socially and culturally constructed ideal".

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said it was an important contribution to the government's campaign to boost body confidence among children.

Start Quote

I want the pack to empower parents to have those difficult conversations and open the door to discussion”

End Quote Lynne Featherstone Equalities Minister

"Young people are being set an impossible standard by images in media and advertising which can erode their self-esteem," she said.

"As parents, we are often aware of these issues, but may not have the advice and guidance we need to talk to our children.

"I want the pack to empower parents to have those difficult conversations and open the door to discussion."

Self-esteem lessons

It comes after a report by the the All Party Parliamentary Group on body image heard evidence that more than half of the public suffer from a negative body image.

The group is calling for all school children to take part in compulsory body image and self-esteem lessons.

Earlier this week a coroner blamed the fashion industry for the death of 14-year-old Fiona Geraghty, found hanged in her home last year after suffering from eating disorder bulimia.

Michael Rose, the West Somerset coroner, called on magazines and catwalks to stop using thin models.

The parent pack follows a similar guide for primary school teachers, also produced by Media Smart, which has been downloaded 1,500 times since its launch last year.

Media Smart chairman Paul Jackson said: "We have been overwhelmed by the response we have had to the body image teacher pack, both in terms of the volume of responses and the enthusiasm with which it has been received.

"We have found that children respond really well when they realise that most of the images they see have been altered in some way and are aspirational but not realistic."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    The way the media/advertising industries manipulate images/people/twitter/facebook should be taught to children under 'social/media studies' so that they can look at images with their own critical judgement and see them for what they are. Nothing more than fantasies peddled to insecure people in order to sell them something or the other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Children need to develop their self-confidence levels.Knowing how to project one's body greatly empowers one's image and pays great dividends in later life too. Developing mastery in image projection does wonders in public speaking. Being comfortable in one's skin is a sure way to create empathy with one's audience.Life is about effective communication. The signals the body sends are all-important

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    I'd much rather see kids schooled in broad critical thinking, so they've a better chance of spotting psychological manipulation wherever it occurs. Narrowing the issue down to 'body image' alone strikes me as short-changing them. It almost seems like psychological manipulation in itself. This iniative strikes me as playing to a political constituency rather than trying to do anything useful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    It is not usually until teenage that body image becomes such a problem, so targetting 6-11 year olds? I'm not sure.
    That's not to deride the attempt to do something about this pernicious problem.
    I think *all* corporate media need to look at their own role in this as in my view it is primary.
    If you want to be a face on the telly/front cover, only slim, young, beautiful people need apply.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    As a teacher, I've noticed a polarisation in body shapes... few 'ordinary' youngsters, they are either stick-thin or bulging in all the wrong places!

    As a mother, I've made sure that my daughter eats a sensible balanced diet and doesn't want to look like someone else, she looks nice as just herself!


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