Body Beautiful season: 'I want to change my body'

I Want to Change My Body The Body Beautiful, a new BBC Three season, will look at body image issues among young people

How does your body make you feel?

This was one of the questions that 50 people aged 16 to 25 had to face when filming themselves for the new BBC Three season, Body Beautiful .

Start Quote

A lot of the time it stops me from being happy; it makes me angry and it makes me really sad”

End Quote Chloe, 18

The documentary I Want To Change My Body tells the story of young men and women who, unhappy with their appearance, decide to radically change their looks - with varying degrees of success.

Some are overweight and trying to get into shape, others are undergoing plastic surgery.

Instead of being interviewed by a TV presenter or telling their story to a person behind the camera, as happens in conventional documentaries, they filmed themselves using handheld equipment over a period of six months.

"My body makes me feel like... it's not really a part of me," admitted 18-year-old Chloe, one of the young people taking part in the programme.

"A lot of the time it stops me from being happy, and it makes me angry and it makes me really sad," she added, close to tears.

"It makes me feel like I'm not normal sometimes."

The contributors regularly uploaded video updates and gave chronological accounts of their journeys towards what they hoped would be more positive images of themselves.

User-generated content

Produced by London-based film company Firecracker, I Want to Change My Body is the latest BBC programme entirely made up of user-generated video content.

From Tech Newbie to Tarantino

The label "user-generated" describes content provided by members of the audience to broadcasters and media companies for use in their productions.

Examples of user-generated content include photographs and videos captured by mobile phones that are shown as part of news reports, such as those circulated by the media during the summer riots in 2011.

The documentary is similar to Britain in a Day, a video portrait of contemporary Britain, which was created by people from across the UK in 2011. Contributors to that project filmed themselves on the same November day.

Press the record button

Unrealistic beauty ideals

A young girl browses the internet

Increasing concerns about young people's exposure to sexual imagery in the media led to a government-ordered review in 2010.

The report by Dr Linda Papadopoulos discussed the effects of sexualisation on, among other things, the body image of both boys and girls.

The mass media, argued Dr Papadopoulos, "promotes and reinforces an idealised notion of beauty for both men and women, presenting standards - of thinness for women and of muscularity for men - that few can ever hope to achieve".

According to Dr Papadopoulos, there is also evidence that an increasing number of parents allow their children to fight their self-image issues by undergoing cosmetic surgery.

The report also remarked that a close, supportive family network is essential to either shield children from sexualised content or, if prevention fails, help them make sense of it.

Taking part in such a programme does not necessarily require previous filming experience, according to Sam Emmery, producer/director of Firecracker.

"When we searched for contributors, camera literacy was not a key requirement. They could press the "record" button - that's all the knowledge we assumed," he said.

The young people either used their own equipment - an ordinary digital camera or mobile phone - or were provided with a camcorder.

Firecracker put together a "how to guide" with tips on to get the best results, such as filming in quiet areas and advice on light and exposure.

To upload their updates, the contributors either used a common file-sharing website or, when connection issues did not make it possible, copied their files to a USB stick which was then posted or collected.

The production company provided editorial and technical feedback, always making sure that the contributor's story and voice would shine through.

"The results were amazing. They did a brilliant job and everybody had a different story to share", said Mr Emmery.

So is there an appetite for more user-generated documentaries? The producer/director certainly thinks so; he says that documentary makers are always keen to find new ways to tell stories.

Dying for clear skin

I Want to Change My Body is part of the BBC's The Body Beautiful Season.

Broadcast on BBC Three from 19 to 28 November, the season aims to increase awareness of the self image issues that affect a large number of teenagers and young adults in the UK.

Jackie Green Jackie Green is the protagonist of Transsexual Teen Beauty Queen

Other programmes include:

Audience members will be able to have their say during an edition of interactive debate Free Speech dedicated to body image issues.

During the Season, BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, BBC Children and BBC Learning will also be exploring body image issues from different perspectives.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

TV and Radio

BBC iPlayer

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.