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 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!

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    ..7. Farquhar ..."A bit ironic that the BBC is equally guilty by only employing attractive female presenters and newsreaders, and getting shot of those that get a bit old."
    You have just made Anne Robinson's day. Perhaps you should also watch Question Time and see some mature intelligent women (even if you disagree with their views).

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    It's all well and good for Govt to point the finger at the media's divisive obsession with weight and certainly the current barrage of TV shows and news items about 'obesity' is causing monumental damage to the way people view themselves and others. However having encouraged obesity alarmism in schools, clubs and the NHS they're far from blameless. Put the focus on health, NOT size / shape.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    contd With primary school aged children myself now, I can't help notice that so many young children seem way too sexualised for their tender years & too street-wise by far - much more so than a generation or two back. Perhaps it is a combination of excessive marketing aimed at kids, too many parents wanting to be their kids 'best mate' (rather than parent) & increased peer pressure?

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Why are governements afraid to address the underlying issues?

    Well unfortunatley our politicians (irrelevant of the party) haven't got the backbones they were born with so they avoid direct action - god forbid they showed some leadership!!

    A tax on junk food to pay for NHS costs, restrictions on advertising would be a help for starters

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    How about tackling it from the other end? More exercise activities in school and a fat tax on junk food to stop kids getting fat in the first place

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Advertisers have become very savvy at making children consumers from a very young age. It's always been that way with toys and such like, but it's increasingly focusing on vanity. Throw into the mix that a lot of parents are now overly body conscious due to the same pressures and you have a melting pot of pressures on kids.

    I'm very grateful that I grew up in a slightly more innocent age.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Hmmm all very well but as parents shouldn't we be careful about the body conscious imagery we allow our very young children to see? As a youngster growing up I can remember my parents being careful about what TV or magazines I read until I reached adulthood - no bad thing with hindsight..
    Also what is so wrong with telling your daughter or son that they 'look great', now & again?

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Just look at our children role models. Dumb, stupid and talentless.

    Wags more like Drags!

    This is shown as a quick and easy way to make money.

    Its a shame that hard work and intelligence is not promoted in the same way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    87. And_here_we_go_again
    Look at the broachure and see the manipulation of Britney & Kiera.
    Britney and Kiera who?

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.


    Whilst I understand that air brushing is unacceptable, the way that the article above is phrased portrays a negative attitude towards ALL thin people. The notion nowadays that you cannot be a "real" woman unless carrying a few extra pounds is absurd, and has a negative effect on young people who struggle to gain weight (my sister, some of the children I work with).

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    @ 83. bethgrace
    "I'm all for promoting good body image, but since when did being thin become a crime?"

    It's not about being thin, it's that even very thin people don't look like the advertising images. Look at the broachure and see the manipulation of Britney & Kiera. Even thin people's tummies crease when they lean forward, bums and breasts are not all perfectally pert.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    RE top rated 7
    A bit harsh.
    The attractive women presenters with their short skirts or dresses are now frequently put behind high coffee tables so you cannot actually see that which they are showing off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    It is drivel. Rather like the idea watching full time physically fit obsessives doing Olympic things will influence ordinary people to copy them. All of them by the way stick thin and lacking any attractively positioned fat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    All advertising is designed to put a gloss on what it's designed to sell.

    Protecting children in a bubble out of the real world implies there is something going on in the real world that we as adults are aware of but are not quite happy with.

    Yet it is we that satisfy advertisers, so even though we know we are victims we wish to teach children not to be.

    Why not deal with advertising?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I'm all for promoting good body image, but since when did being thin become a crime? I and my sister are both naturally thin, her more so than me, and she frequently gets called anorexic and worse besides, all because she doesn't gain weight easily. I don't understand why it's acceptable to persecute anybody for their weight, fat or thin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Television and other pictorial media share much of the blame for this. Controlled by people, whose overriding concern is what stuff, including people, looks like.

    If this forms too big a part of a developing child's quasi-reality, especially if reinforced by peer consensus, then the results are pretty predictable.

    Stop your kid gawping at screens, and mixing with other kids who do. "Easy".

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Getting rid of celebrity culture would be a good start. Perhaps elevating people because of their empathy, positive contributions to society or what is between their ears as opposed to what they look like?

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    We must not be too thin, we must not be overweight, we must not be to plain, we must not try and be beautiful. Know wonder poor kids are so confused.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    The last thirty years has seen our culture move away from substantial values of the practical and real into the psychic-sludge of presentation over substance and celebrity culture. Mass neurosis is part of the fallout from this shift and the government making it an official issue won’t make a jot of difference.


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