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 started dieting to change their body shape, and the vast majority of young people say they’d rather be thin than healthy.
Be Real: Body confidence for everyone launched in October of 2015 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:
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 did leading up to the last general election, the issue of young people’s mental health and wellbeing was 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.
To find out more about getting involved in the campaign visit the Be real website.