Gok Wan relaunches body image campaign for schools

12/05/11

Gok Wan

TV presenter Gok Wan has relaunched his campaign to get body image classes taught in schools across the country.

The star taught a class outside the House of Commons to try to get the issue into curriculums in England, Wales, Northern Ireand and Scotland.

In 2009 Gok Wan had a meeting with then Labour children's minister Ed Balls but the policy wasn't implemented in time before last year's general election.

He said: "Every single child needs to talk about body dysmorphia."

Body dysmorphia

The campaign comes ahead of the start of the 36-year-old's latest show Gok's Teens: The Naked Truth, a four-part series looking at body image in young people.

I'm not saying that kids will turn round and stop having eating disorders. But just by opening up a dialogue and getting them to talk about it is as important as talking about maths or talking about science or talking about English
Gok Wan

The programme will be shown on Channel 4 later this year.

The How to Look Good Naked presenter says he wants the issue to be taught as part of PSHE (Personal social health & economic education) classes.

"We don't talk about body dysmorphia and we don't talk about body hatred either," he said.

"We keep it really isolated and I think that injures us as we get older because it becomes habitual.

"So when we get older it's going to start affecting our lives and our relationships."

Personal experience

Gok Wan's body image petition managed to get 50,000 signatures in 2009, with the presenter personally delivering it to Number 10 Downing Street.

He says the coalition government, and new education minister Michael Gove, need to start listening.

Gok Wan
Image caption Gok Wan is teaching a body confidence class outside parliament

"We had to start all over again," he admitted. "We've been trying to talk to the education minister and trying to get back in there again and basically not getting anywhere with it at all.

"So instead of us stopping there and thinking, 'How do we do this?' we've just continued with the movement."

Gok Wan says the idea behind the campaign is based on personal experience.

The TV presenter grew up in Leicester and says he was bullied from a young age for being too tall, overweight and mixed race.

He says by talking about body image in front of their peers, teenagers would grow up with more confidence and self-esteem.

"I'm not saying that kids will turn round and stop having eating disorders," he said. "I'm not saying that they will all of a sudden look in the mirror and say, 'That's it. I'm going to accept myself for who I am.'

"But just by opening up a dialogue and getting them to talk about it is as important as talking about maths or talking about science or talking about English."