What Are You Looking At?

Have you ever be teased about the way you look?

Appearance is the largest cause of bullying in schools. Although appearance bullying has always been a feature of our lives, body image anxiety has been fulled by unrealistic body and beauty ideals from social media and celebrities.

Body confidence has a direct impact on students’ academic performance and general wellbeing. It stops young people putting their hand up in class and it can cause major self-esteem problems, depression and even suicide.

It’s hard to believe but research has shown that children as young as five are now worried about how they look and some primary school children have started dieting. Young children should not be experiencing self-doubt and crippling insecurities but many are.

Appearance based bullying rears its ugly head in every school and in every street. Being teased about the way you look and who you are is almost a rite of passage for some. Little wonder then that many children suffer from body image anxiety.

But being bullied because of your appearance can be devastating and lead to major problems.

According to the YMCA, 55% of young people have been bullied about the way they look, with two fifths of those experiencing this bullying at least once a week.

The YMCA spoke to more than 1,000 young people aged 11 to 16 years old as part of its new research report ‘In Your Face’, which is part of the charity’s Be Real Campaign with Dove.

Image result for be real campaign 2018

In You Face found that much of the bullying young people experience centres on weight and body shape. 60% of young people admitted they had tried to change their appearance after being bullied and 24% said they reduced the amount they ate or went on a diet.

In some cases the effect was more severe with one in ten of those being bullied about their looks having suicidal thoughts and 9% saying they self-harmed as a result.

Most of us might think that appearance-based bullying takes predominantly online but the report found that bullying in person was commonplace.

A staggering 80% of those getting bullied about the way they look say it takes place in school or college.

The YMCA is asking schools to be at the forefront in tackling appearance bullying and become a Be Real School by promoting body confidence. Ms Carol Dallas, Head at Taverham High School tell us more in the following video:

Schools can get involved using the campaign’s free Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit. Register here to download the kit.

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive for YMCA England & Wales, said:

It’s crucial that we teach young people how to feel comfortable in their own body and that looking different isn’t a bad thing. Educating young people about the effects of bullying alongside body confidence will help to tackle this issue where it’s most prevalent, schools.

Part of the Be Real Campaign is the Body Image Pledge, created to address body image anxiety.

The Body Image Pledge, calls for the responsible portrayal of body image in advertising, fashion, music and the media industries. It’s intended as a handy reference to help organisations
interpret and adopt the Body Image Pledge’s four principles:


Communications, as appropriate, should reflect the UK population’s diverse range of body shapes and sizes, skin tones, ages, genders, ethnicities, disfigurements, abilities and disabilities.


Images should show people as they are in real life, with alterations limited to technical corrections, such as light or deleting stray hairs. Images should show what is realistically attainable
for most people from using the products or services promoted.


Models should be healthy and age-appropriate. Emphasis should be placed on health and wellbeing not weight or appearance.


Promote and advocate the Body Image Pledge; encouraging others to adopt its principles and follow responsible body image practice. Educate and train staff in responsible body image
practice as defined by the Pledge.


See also Somebody Like Me: A report investigating the impact of body image anxiety on young people in the UK.

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