· Last year eight times as many girls than boys across the UK received Childline counselling for worries about how they look
· Childline told that ‘body perfect’ images across TV, magazines and social media are contributing to girls’ anxiety over their own appearance
· TV personality and body image campaigner Stacey Solomon joins Dame Esther Rantzen in encouraging young people to be comfortable in their own skin
· Nearly 150 Childline counselling sessions with children from Wales about body image over the last two years
Girls are eight times more likely than boys to receive help from Childline for worries about their weight, problems with acne and how they look.
Latest figures from the NSPCC service reveal that last year it delivered almost 2,000 counselling sessions to girls with body image concerns, compared to just 256 for boys.
Nearly 150 counselling sessions were delivered by Childline to children from Wales about body image over the last two years, with 72 in 2015/16 and 77 in 2016/17. The most common age group for children from Wales contacting Childline about the issue was those aged between 12 and 15 years old.
Exposure to ‘body perfect’ images on TV, in magazines and across social media is cited as one of the reasons why girls in particular are so unhappy with their appearance.
These issues were heightened when the individual also suffered bullying at school and online, driving some victims to try to change the way they look.
A number of young people who were counselled by Childline about how they look also revealed that they were struggling with self-esteem issues, depression and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
In 2016/17 there were a total of 2,609 counselling sessions delivered across the UK to young people with body image problems, with 980 of these being received by 12 to 15 year-old girls. A further 120 counselling sessions were delivered to girls aged 11 and under.
One 12 year-old girl told the Childline: “I’m feeling really sad and I don’t like myself. I keep comparing myself to pictures of people in magazines and people on TV and I wish I looked like them. I don’t want to talk to people about this because I don’t want to worry them.”
Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen said: “It’s very sad and extremely worrying that girls in particular are so unhappy with the way they look. Without the right support and a general change in attitude across society there is a real danger these issues could intensify and continue into adulthood.
“It’s important all young people realise that everyone is different and everyone has the right to and be comfortable in their own skin. Childline will continue to provide vital support for any girl or boy who is struggling with a body image problem.”
TV personality and body image campaigner Stacey Solomon added: “Childhood should be a happy, care-free time but these figures show that many young people are getting old before their time.
“The 24 hour nature of social media along with the constant steam of airbrushed images on television and in magazines is encouraging girls in particular to strive for an ideal which doesn’t exist in reality.
“All adults who care for the wellbeing of the younger generation need to try and make both boys and girls understand that each person has a beauty, talents and a personality that are unique to them.”
Any adult concerned about the welfare of a child or young person can call the NSPCC helpline for free, 24/7, on 0808 800 5000. Children can call Childline at any time on 0800 111, visit www.childline.org.uk or download the ‘For Me’ app.
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