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 178.

    I think this is a step in the right direction children need to be children and childhood is precious. Girls in particular are pressurized from a young age to conform to what the media through magazines and Tv think they should be wearing, what music they should like the list is endless. It is all about image, image, image.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    I'm a 33 year old man. I lost 3 stone recently for health reasons. It was only when I lost the last few pounds that I noticed something unexpected: women giving me coy looks and double-takes. I'd never been so slim and now had a more chiseled face. By the same token, men find women more attractive when they can see their features as they should naturally be. It's an evolutionary law of attraction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    This blog is a perfect example of what's wrong with this whole subject.
    Buried & chock-full of half-baked, ill-informed reactionary diatribe.
    Meanwhile real people, often young & emotionally insecure (though far from exclusively), live lives tormented by perceived failure to attain something utterly false.
    Media images are sold to people who want them. Think on that when buying 'Heat'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    When did parents and people find it acceptable for the government to raise our children? This is yet another case of the state telling adults how to run their lives. Adults and parents should raise their children however they want to. It is none of 'society's business, nor the governments'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Wonder which members of the Cabinet will have the body confidence to abandon the 'lego look' hair dyes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    @59 cyclecommuter

    "And if the state dislikes the media's criticism of the state, the police, the afghan war, or of political leaders... []... Ministry of Truth like!".

    You seem to have missed, and subsequently misrepresented my point. This isn't regulating the press for telling the truth; it's regulating them for telling lies. The difference between the two should be fairly obvious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    The only thing is, it appears that people want to be advertised to. We're saturated in 'media' because people consume it voraciously. Indeed people do plenty of their own image manipulation. Celeb culture suggests EVERYBODY gets to advertise something. There's so much more to this than "body image". A political pamphlet for 6 year olds, that they won't understand, doesn't seem much of an answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    157.Pancha Chandra
    "Knowing how to project one's body greatly empowers one's image and pays great dividends in later life too"

    Knowing how to project your body would be good for a circus act

    This is the kind of vacuous nonsense which is (partially, at least) causing the problem

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Perhaps the ASA should ensure that people in adverts truthfully reflect the products they are advertising, No more toothpaste adverts featuring people with veneers and no more shampoo adverts featuring people with extensions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    "I'd much rather see kids schooled in broad critical thinking, so they've a better chance of spotting psychological manipulation wherever it occurs."

    Well said. Imo 'body image classes' are just another way to heap yet more attention on vanity and appearance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    All advertising operates by making you feel inadequate in some way, or suggesting that you're missing out on something. Adverts are very carefully designed to target pre-existing psychological hooks. Politicians will do nothing about it because they use exactly the same techniques. Maybe we need to persuade reformed advertisers to tour schools and expose the manipulation using a video and a chat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Body confidence stems from balanced self esteem and good parental influence. There is no such thing as Adonis or Venus de Milo because nobody is perfect and the myths surrounding some celebs/film stars/etc., are the creation of the media and peoples' imagination. Vanity and mirror gazing can often lead to low self esteem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    Used to show this in school - says it all.....

  • Comment number 165.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • 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 163.

    Let me see if I've got this right.

    After all the BBC's anguish and dismay about the "obesity epidemic", children are being told that it's wrong to want to be slim.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    160.tigersimon "Note to 106: I did say "ask yourself am I a GOOD role model".
    Yes but most HYSers seem to think we SHOULD be making kids obsess over obesity / food; they're zealots who denounce any who urge caution as dangerous heretics to be silenced or discredited. If the obesity witchhunt is the new climate change, consider me a sceptic, unfortunately one who seems to be in a minority of one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    149.Its all a shambles "shouldn't we be arguing that being overweight is also a health risk"
    Clearly you live on a completely different planet, where the media / govt hasn't spend the last 10yrs force-feeding everyone the 'fat=evil' message 20x a day, and where 'the obese' are fairly represented as people with feelings instead of the humiliated victims of the Biggest Loser etc. Want to swap?

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    ...106. 151179 ..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.
    Note to 106: I did say "ask yourself am I a GOOD role model".

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    The Fashion industry has a lot to answer for.
    It thrives on insecurity and squanders resources to produce over priced tat.
    Mostly they are a Brand or Logo that adds nothing but price to a product.


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