New research on appearance-based bullying in young people highlights the need for action

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics welcomes the Be Real Campaign’s ‘In Your Face’ report, published today.

The report – which includes research undertaken by the YMCA on behalf of Be Real –indicates that young people in the UK are battling negative relationships and dissatisfaction with their appearance, as illustrated by testimony from the 11-16-year-olds who participated in the project.

More than half of the 1,006 participants reported that they had been bullied about their appearance. Out of those who experienced appearance-based bullying, more than half said they became anxious and just under one-third said they became depressed; 60% said that they had changed the way they look as a result.

The Be Real Campaign’s work in developing and promoting evidence-based resources on body image was endorsed in our own Cosmetic procedures: ethical issues report last year.

Director of the Council, Hugh Whittall, said:

“We are pleased to see more research being done on the impact of appearance anxiety and body image in young people, something which we have raised as a key concern in our own work on the ethics of cosmetic procedures.

Today’s report highlights the serious effects that body image concerns can have on young people’s self-esteem and mental health. It further strengthens recommendations we made last year, in particular our call for lessons on body image to be made a compulsory part of the curriculum, and the need for social media platforms to help tackle the rise of appearance anxiety in young people.

The YMCA’s body confidence campaign toolkit provides resources and guidance for schools to help them embed positive attitudes to body image within policies and teaching.

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