More than half the UK population suffers from body image anxiety, a leading cause of depression, low self-esteem, poor participation at school and lack of progression at work.
It particularly affects young people, with children as young as five now worrying about how they look, and appearance the largest single concern for a third of girls and a fifth of boys by the age of 10.
By 14, half of girls and a third of boys have starting dieting to change their body shape, and the vast majority of young people say they’d rather be thin than healthy.
About the campaign
Be Real: Body confidence for everyone launched in October 2014 and is a multi-stakeholder campaign, aimed at getting people in the UK feeling body confident. YMCA has played a crucial role in its development and the campaign is being co-ordinated by YMCA England on behalf of a multi-stakeholder partnership, including the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, industry associations, commercial brands and numerous charities.
- Be Real is campaigning to change attitudes to body image and help all of us to put health above appearance and be confident in our bodies. The campaign calls for the following:
- Real education: enabling children and parents to build body confidence through access to high quality information, resources and networks, and by prioritising the incorporation of a body confidence programme into the national curriculum.
- Real health: promoting body confidence based on healthy living and general wellbeing, not just appearance and weight; prioritising the replacement of the prevalent, negative language of weight loss with positive healthy living messages.
- Real diversity: encouraging the media, business and advertisers to improve body confidence by accurately and positively reflecting the UK’s body diversity; prioritising their commitment to a socially responsible code of practice.
Why YMCA is involved
Developing the health of young people and the communities where they live is core to what YMCA does. We also help young people speak out on the issues that matter to them.
In the research we are undertaking in the lead up to the next general election, the issue of young people’s mental health and wellbeing has been raised as a priority both by young people themselves and YMCA staff. In a recent survey of over 500 young people, body image anxiety was the number one health concern.
Through our family services, nurseries and as the largest voluntary sector provider of health and wellbeing services promoting physical activity in England, YMCA plays a key and vital role in promoting a healthy lifestyle and body image.
How can I get involved?
To find out more about getting involved in the campaign visit YMCA England’s website or the Be Real Campaign website.
The website is packed full of information and resources relating to body image and self-esteem and much more.