UK Parents Learn How To Talk To Kids About Body Image – Courtesy Of The Government

You know those magazine covers with perfect faces and bodies, that have been toned and transformed from what they once were into a new reality?

The British government has backed a guide revealing just how those images are altered in the media, in order to help parents teach their children to be confident about their bodies.

It turns out that David Cameron’s cabinet includes an equalities minister, who introduced the guide that was released on June 22.

From The Guardian:

Lynne Featherstone, the equalities minister, said the guide was an important contribution to the government’s campaign to boost body confidence among children. It would empower parents to have “those difficult conversations” with their children, she said.

“Young people are being set an impossible standard by images in media and advertising which can erode their self-esteem. As parents, we are often aware of these issues but may not have the advice and guidance we need to talk to our children,” Featherstone said.

The So-Called Perfect Body: A Socially And Culturally Constructed Ideal

The guide stresses that the so-called perfect body and the emphasis on skinniness is a “socially and culturally constructed ideal”. It features before-and-after touched-up pictures of celebrities such as Britney Spears, and encourages parents to make children aware that many images in the media are heavily photoshopped.

Last week, Michael Rose, a coroner in Taunton, Somerset, blamed the fashion industry for the death of 14-year-old Fiona Geraghty, who hanged herself last year after suffering from eating disorder bulimia. Rose recorded a verdict of misadventure and launched into an attack on the fashion world.

From The Guardian (where you can see a photo of this delightful 14-year-old):

“The one class of person not here who I hold directly responsible for what happened is the fashion industry,” he said.

“The problems of eating disorders amongst young people, particularly girls, did not exist before the 1970s. From that period onwards the fashion industry and the magazines promoted thin models and the thin figure.

“I do ask, particularly the magazines in the fashion industry, to stop publishing photographs of wafer thin girls. I do implore it, because at the end of the day for their benefit, families like this must suffer. It is, I am afraid, an increasing problem and until they control themselves it will continue.”

Government-Back Body Confidence Campaign

The body image parent pack, developed for 6-11-year-olds by the nonprofit organization Media Smart, marks the latest contribution to the government’s Body Confidence campaign, launched in 2010, and co-founded by two Members of Parliament: Lynne Featherstone and Jo Swinson.

What a great campaign for the government to support! Here’s what the campaign is all about:

We believe that the pressure to conform to impossible stereotypes is damaging our sense of well-being and leading to increasing unhappiness, anxiety, low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders in women, particularly amongst young people and children – and men.

We believe that everyone has the right, whatever their size, shape or form, to feel happy about themselves.

Therefore we pledge to campaign for Body Confidence to influence the fashion, beauty, diet, and media industries – and the government to:
- ensure honesty and transparency in advertising,

- promote diversity of body shapes and sizes used in magazines, advertising, broadcast and catwalk
- introduce media literacy and body confidence education in school

- give children positive examples of using their bodies by promoting active lifestyles and less sexualised imagery

What a fantastic educational tool, for parents and teachers, to teach kids, especially girls, how to be media literate about the images they are seeing. Knowledge is power!

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Photo Credit: Humajasmine


Jessica Larsen
Janne O4 years ago

It's not a bad idea but... For a child, especially a tween, talking to their parents about such things might be very awkward. Maybe the school nurse/doc or a teacher would be more suited for the task?

Dee C.
Dee C4 years ago

I have a niece who is 11 years old walking around saying how fat she is and needs to diet and exercise..She is as thin as a rail already..It is so sad..And her mom agrees with her..even sadder..
Parents need to teach their daughters self worth and self respect first and foremost..

Berny P.
Berny p5 years ago

If you look at fashion designer...they look like the back of a best...

They dont care if the person is a man or a woman ...all they want is a walking cloth if you have to many curves it is the model you notice..not the clothes...and that would never do!!!

Stephanie Warm
Stephanie Warm5 years ago

I absolutely support this effort - I think it's great that the governmant has taken on such an effort. I would like to see something similar in the U.S. I want to point out, though, that it is a mistake to say that eating disorders did not exist until the 70's. They were present far before (maybe less pervasive, I'm not sure) - there just wasn't much/any knowledge about them, and they were hidden. Eating disorders, while absolutely contributed to by the fasion industry and such, are complicated and arise from a variety of sources. Trust me, if there's anyone who dislikes the fashion industry, it's me, but I don't think that we can place all the blame on it. It's certain an impetus for girls/women (as well as boys/men) who are already vulnerable to develop eating disorders and other psychological issues. It certain makes recovery from eating disorders a hell of a lot harder (believe me, I know this from experience). But, individuals whose lives are severly compromised by eating disorders generally have come to this point due to a wide variety of causes.

Neil A.
Neil A5 years ago

While anorexia is very unhealthy, morbid obesity is more of a problem, which is not recognised by many, in the US great numbers have M.O. which will cause them ill health Great costs & probable early death, but most cases?? of anorexia may be improved by taking some antidepresants that have side effects of by passing the appestat??.

Ernest R.
Ernest R5 years ago

Apparently not being obese or at least not overweight is an impossible stereotype. And “skinniness is a “socially and culturally constructed ideal”. In the same paragraph Britney Spears is mentioned and she never struck me as “wafer thin” or “skinny”. The term “role model” was once used for people who young people wanted to be like. Ahletes were expected to be role models for young people and they presented impossible stereotypes that were very difficult to attain, especially for children such as myself who could never become really good at sports. That didn’t stop us from trying to improve. The “stereotype “ of an ideal body is much the same in every culture, even in cultures with obesity as a sign of wealth. When I go to the gym, I am working toward the ideal “impossible stereotype” that I can recognize. If the ideal no longer is accepted to exist, then what are we striving for ? People that can convince themselves of the delusion that “everybody is beautiful in their own way” can now just relax, convinced that their obesity is how it should be and sneer at those skinny freaks. Hey ladies, Twiggy was a really long time ago. Since then we had Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe.

Colleen J.
Colleen J5 years ago

This is great idea, I wish the American gov would implement something similar. People already have enough to worry about without stressing out over not conforming to an unrealistic body standard.

Amber Beasley
Amber Beasley5 years ago


Elizabeth L.
Elizabeth L5 years ago

Twiggy would have been too fat to model today. I modelled in London in the 60's and I was 5'6 as was Twiggy. I weighed 8 1/2 stone and was a size 12. Twiggy weighed 8 stone and took a size 10. The photos of her were not photoshopped. The average size in the London in the swinging 60's was a 12 and that was the standard size for samples. Skinny sure but nothing like the model sizes today

Sharon H.
Sharon H5 years ago

@Gene J...when Twiggy hit the magazines I was a supper skinny teen who could eat and eat whatever I wanted and never gain an ounce. When I saw her, I was actually thrilled because all of a sudden, I was in style. Up to that point, I was embarrassed about how thin I was. The weight thing is a two sided coin and I can tell you that no amount of talking at that age will make very much of an impact. All you want to do is fit in and maybe for a minute, stand out. That's what Twiggy did for me and I will always be grateful.