In England, schools are not currently required to provide any lessons about body image, and a group of young people would like to change that. The Youth Select Committee, which is made up of eleven teens are campaigning for a curriculum that includes lessons on body image after almost 1 million young people voted this a top youth issue
‘Our Government must take the lead by ensuring that the all-encompassing potential of our youngest generation isn’t destroyed by shame and fear of their own bodies’ Tough Cookies Education talk body image with today’s teens.
Poor body image can really impact the lives of teens. A report, set out by the Youth Select Committee in Parliament showed body image has been linked to young people’s involvement in risky behaviours such as smoking, drug and alcohol use, and unsafe sex.
Now young people want to change that and are campaigning for schools to include body image lessons as part of the curriculum.
Thomas Copeland, 18, is Chair of the Youth Select Committee he said: ‘If we are to tackle body image problems correctly, education must play a vital part in doing so.
‘We must implement into every child’s education an awareness of body image issues, as well as the acceptance of those who are different to us.
‘Body image isn’t just about the way we look; it is also about the way we perceive our place in society’.
Bryden Joy, is a Teacher at Perins School, Hampshire, he supports the campaign, being led by young people, he said:
‘Mental health is such a problem, and having a positive body image leads to self-esteem which I believe can improve mental health; if we’re willing to teach about being economically savvy and knowing how to identify risks, why would we not want to talk about being able to tell when we’re being manipulated by media images? It all ties together in my view’.
The report, put together by the Youth Select Committee, which is made up of eleven teens, came about after almost 1 million young people voted this a top youth issue, the findings recognised that idealised body images used in advertising and promoted across traditional and social media can contribute to the development of unrealistic body expectations.
Thomas said: ‘Researching this report was a mammoth task, and the realisation that I came to was that every single part of society has a role to play in this campaign. Education, health, traditional media, social media, our friends, our parents, our communities, the list is endless!
‘The report by the Youth Select Committee is one small part in the battle to ensure that poor body confidence is recognised as a danger far greater than a trivial preoccupation of the superficial and the vain’.
In March 2017, the Secretary of State for Education announced her intention to make sex and relationships education compulsory from 2019 and the Youth Select Committee hope there is the opportunity for these classes to include the topic of body image.
Thomas, added: ‘The Government’s decision to make RSE compulsory is welcome, and would undoubtedly go some way to improving student understanding of body confidence.
‘However, tackling this problem cannot be left to the already over-saturated PSHE and RSE curriculum alone. The Government must demonstrate that they are taking the issue of body image seriously by providing extra funding for schools to take a more integrated and wider approach to solve body image problems’.