One size does not fit all says MP in body image report

By Harriet Ernstsons 31/05 Updated: 31/05 17:37

THE USE of airbrushing in magazines has been condemned by Redditch’s MP after a report revealed half of all girls and a third of boys are worried about their bodies.

Karen Lumley told the Standard children were growing up with unrealistic expectations about what they should look like due to standards set for them by the models seen in magazines, who had often had their images altered using computer software.

According to the report drawn up by Central YMCA and MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, of which Mrs Lumley is a part, more than half of UK residents are battling mental and physical problems relating to how they view their body image.

But the group found the ‘body ideal’ presented by the media, advertising and celebrities was not physically achievable by nearly 95 per cent of the population.

Mrs Lumley said she felt children were being encouraged to dress as mini-adults and were expected to grow up too quickly, adding to the pressures they felt about their appearance.

“I am shocked when I look in magazines and see people who are airbrushed. Children are trying to get to that stage but what they see is not actually real,” she said.

“You only have to go into Redditch and see young teenagers walking around to see this is happening.

“Shops in Redditch are selling clothes for children which are essentially adult’s clothes and they are being encouraging to grow up far too quickly.

“I hope retailers will take notice of this report and magazine owners will start to understand there are different people in this world. We need to let children grow up in their own way and have some self-esteem to like who they are and not try and be somebody else.

“Telling people they can be a certain size is wrong. People need to be confident in who they are and not get pushed into what some magazine tells them is appropriate. One size does not fit all.”

Recommendations include for the discredited body mass index - used by doctors and health experts to decide if people are underweight, overweight or within a healthy range - to be replaced and for advertisers to vow to use more realistic models and images rather than ones which have been digitally enhanced.

School children should also be given lessons on body image and self-esteem.

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