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 118.

    108. Gironaut: "Fridge Raiders"? Yes I noticed it too. But then both of us saw the ad and rejected it as BS on multiple levels. It's clear that some people do discern, the problem is that many do not. Why is that? Many will have seen a slew of ads for 'payday' loans which get people into deep trouble, yet we're only worried about 'body image' ads? People need education about adverts in general.

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    Another sadly necessary initiative. Most people don't honestly know how their minds are continually tinkered with by the media, particularly commercial advertising. Teaching them how marketeers get at them might be more useful even though this verges on semiotics. Anyone who's been near the subject of consumer behaviour will attest to this.

  • 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 115.

    I see the kids who have kids shopping every week surrounded by their entourage of fag smoking, shell suit wearing spotty lads. they go straight to the freezers pick up as may 4 for a pound frozen c***p they can 'afford' then make a bee line for the cheap vodka!!! Not an apple or orange in sight. Yes this is stereotypical view but one that is played out increasingly more and more!

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Changing the subject . .

    It's amazing how the BBc and media have not mentioned the fact that employers can pay immigrant workers half the minimum wage if they put a roof over their heads.

    Why do you think it's always farmers and hotels that employ them and not Tescos ?

    Whatever your position, you have to admit that it's odd that they have never mentioned that and most are unaware of the fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    103.tigersimon - "Never mind pamphlets, ask yourself; 'as a parent, am I a good role model?'. That is their first reference point."

    1st reference yes, but but no means the only, not by a very, very long way - it's takes input from wider society to bring kids in the modern, globalised world & one way we can play our part is by cracking down on dodgy advertising

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    It seems a bit bizarre to acknowledge that much media imagery is toxic, yet make no attempt to deal with it at source. Too much money is made for the govt to tackle it's backers and lobbyists. But promoting the notion that it's all about body image, and that being overweight is actually quite normal, is just as toxic, with another set of backers and lobbyists to tackle. Obesity kills.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    97.tigersimon "watch Question Time and see some mature intelligent women"
    But with its late-night slot and niche audience, QT is an exception. I think Farquhar@7 meant the thin-obsessed Breakfast, One Show, even Countryfile! Though with most 'larger' female celebs / presenters lately having been bullied into slimming down, even finding any would be a challenge in itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    This is all part of the bigger picture of English self loathing that affects some of us.

    UK schools teach kids to hate themselves, there are too many female teachers and out dated teaching methods.

    That plus the kids watching American rot kids programmes when they get in from school.

    Almost like it's by design !

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    Basically advertising and consumerism has become society. This initiative is a good start but we need some politically correct legislation about advertising to even begin to start tackling the root cause of the problem. And it will take several decades to fix. I doubt anyone has the will to do anything about it. Bad luck kids, you live in a mental asylum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Have just seen an advert for a Fridge snack aimed at kids.
    It's cheap meat, salt and Palm oil, aimed as a snack between meals.
    So you eat that then half an hour later you eat your tea.
    What are we Diabetic Hobbits?

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    lifestyle today plays a big part, we are req to work more and pro rata earn less = budget restrictions,
    therefore we buy cheaper / processed food, this contains high levels of hyd fat sugar and salt, tastes good so we buy more, also couch potato society as well, its not the kids that need educating , its the exploitive food manufacturers and s,mkts that need to learn

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    103.tigersimon "ask yourself; 'as a parent, am I a good role model?"
    Again I agree, though probably not in the way you meant. If a girl sees Mum dieting, going to Weight Watchers, criticising her own body and those of other women it's bound to rub off. Similarly boys whose Dads express a dislike of fat women and girls will inevitably view them as inferior beings. There's no easy answer to this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    73.Diddleypete "there is already pressure to be thin"
    Absolutely. And the medical definition of 'normal' has become MUCH stricter: many slim / average kids are now labelled 'obese' under BMI. See .There were plenty of fat kids in my school (late 80s): some stayed that way, others became thin, but unlike today ALL were allowed to grow into their bodies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    there is an underlying propaganda theme here,advertisers have printed ideals for firms for years, people read it/see it and act on what they see instead of making up their own minds
    adverts sell, selling is profit,profit is good, at the expense of well being, sadly this is how these businesses work, exploitation of the vulnerable.
    people you are what you are, dont be told otherwise

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Never mind pamphlets, ask yourself; 'as a parent, am I a good role model?'. That is their first reference point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    So after spending all that money haranguing people for being too fat, the governement has worked out that the school kids on the receiving end are reacting by becoming anorexic and bulimic (or at least miserably unhappy with themselves) and are now having to "endorse" work intended to redress some of the balance. What a surprise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    I can only assume the numerous brainwashed supporters of the 'fat tax' have never had to shop on a budget. This would be a retrograde, regressive and knee-jerk response to a media / moral panic. In any case, the article is about body image, not 'obesity', our obsessional focus on which has been repeatedly proven to be a major contributor to self-consciousness, anxiety, bullying & discrimination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I'm reminded of Churchill's reply, when told someone was "a very modest man". It was: "he has much to be modest about".

    Bty analogy, many of today's spoilt, delusional, up themselves, full-of-crap kids have nothing upon which to base true confidence, so how a pamphlet's supposed to help I don't know.

    Those who thankfully aren't like that will not need any help anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    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"

    How would that prevent children from becoming anorexic to look like their favourite celeb? This pack is about "body image" not obesity. Both of which need to be tackled, but by different methods.


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