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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  • Comment number 158.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    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

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    Comment number 156.

    As if 6-11 year olds have any idea who Britney Spears was! It's as if "not-for-profit organisation Media Smart" is entirely populated by modern dads. . .

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    Comment number 155.

    @150. No_7

    No they're not. You can see if someone is wearing heals, you can see if someone is wearing makeup, you can't see if an image has had it's hip narrowed.

    There is nothing wrong with trying to make yourself look your best. By "airbrushing in real life" I meant changing your figure and that is very different to chosing clothes and makeup that make the most of what you have.

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    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.

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    Comment number 153.

    Everyone seems to be discussing the fashion indusry, but by the age of 5, my daughters role models are Barbie and Disney princesses. I have not bought these for her, but other parents have, they don't seem to realise that these are negative images for small girls. Oh and the amount of presents of make up and high heels . . . maybe 6 is too late

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    Comment number 152.

    No where does body image become as seflimportant than at the beach. Some people never go near the water without full dress others find secluded spots away from prying eyes, but of course there are those who are oblivious to public opinion (humility comes with age) and bask as they care to do. The young and middle aged are more conscious of what they look like but so do children by their peers.

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    Comment number 151.

    @ 149
    That was my point, I think it would be better to have thin/slim models than suggest that it's good to be overweight, but they should show them how they really are.

    There are beautiful people out there and I think people should care about their appearance but the images kids are seeing aren't attainable. Fine no laws (although I can't see how it would drive business out), but it is a problem

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    Comment number 150.

    147. And_here_we_go_again: But that's the point I'm making, that make-up, spray tan, high heels, chicken fillets, etc. are precisely 'air-brushing' in real life. All are designed to create a false impression in order to subjectively 'improve' appearance. 'Deceptive techniques' are already widely used. It seems disingenuous to condemn some and defend others.

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    Comment number 149.

    @148. And_here_we_go_again

    Why not? Because the country is already on its knees and the last thing we need is to drive out all the remaining business by making ridiculous laws.

    Further to that shouldn't we be arguing that being overweight (other than as a result of medical problems) is also a health risk and we shouldn't be using bigger models either as kids will think its okay to over eat?

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    @ 146.Its all a shambles

    "We can't just say to all marketing and media companies that operate in the UK that they cant do it so what's the point in caring?"

    Why not? I would say that would be better than using size 16 models and then airbrushing them to remove any negatives of being slightly overweight. (I say slightly based on 6' models)

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    Comment number 147.

    @ 145. No_7
    Anyone can wear heals, spray tan and learn to do good make up, of course some would be better than others, but this option is open to all (yes pedantic people of course there are a few who can't).

    This is very different to taking someone with an already amazing body and then "improving" it. You can't airbrush yourself in real life, you can wear makeup.

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    Comment number 146.

    @144. And_here_we_go_again

    again, how who you propose to enforce "allowing cleaning up of skin tone and so forth but not, shaving down the model's hips, narrowing her waist or increasing her breast size"?

    We can't just say to all marketing and media companies that operate in the UK that they cant do it so what's the point in caring? With all the wrongs in the world it's pretty trivial!

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    Comment number 145.

    141. And_here_we_go_again: Your point is that air-brushing gives a false impression of a person's shape, that this is wrong, and it should be stopped. I don't disagree but wonder whether make-up, spray tan, high heels, etc. fall into the same category. All are specifically designed to give a false impression. Where should the line be drawn? Precisely when is giving a false impression 'wrong'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    @ 142. Its all a shambles
    Many people on here are commenting as if it's an attack on beng thin and hence clearly not grasping the extent of airbrushing. As I said before, I would propose allowing cleaning up of skin tone and so forth but not, shaving down the model's hips, narrowing her waist or increasing her breast size. Basically you can't change the shape of the body.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    It's not about pamphlets - it's about IQ.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    @141. And_here_we_go_again

    I think everybody understands what air brushing is. What is your proposed solution? Ban companies from doing it? Would that include banning all adverts from over seas that do it as well?

    When I was wee I wanted to look like all the wrestlers on TV but then you realise that normal people aren't like that, it's called growing up.

    This is a mountain out of a mole hill!

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    Comment number 141.

    Here's an example of my point:

    Slim people generally aren't curvy so part of the waist is removed to make them thin but with curves. I don't think companies should be forced to use larger models but I don't think they should be able to change the body shape of the models, touch up skin tone, sure but don't change their shape.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    If so many people are susceptible to advertising, a 45 sec slot of condensed bilge, are they not also susceptible, in the same way, to soaps and celeb schlock? Soaps hide behind the notion that they deal with 'issues', but in fact they promote toxic cultural themes while claiming to comment on them. Are they just as toxic as adverts?

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    children aren't allowed to be children any more, too much emphasis on perfect society, which we have not got, more effort needed instilling moral standards into society generally and getting rid of some of the garbage ideals that exist today


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