House Of Commons Seal

Welcome to the homepage for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image of which Central YMCA provides the secretariat.

All Party Parliamentary Groups are formed by MPs and Peers of any political party who have a common interest. They are not part of the Government and set their own agenda; they must also contain members from at least the three biggest political parties in the House of Commons.

Image shows the launch of the APPG on Body Image (from left): Mary Glindon MP, Caroline Nokes MP, Duncan Stephenson (CYMCA), Jo Swinson MP, Rosi Prescott (CYMCA).

What do MPs think about body image issues?

Early in 2011 Central YMCA commissioned COMRES, an independent market research company to find out what MPs think about body image issues. Some of the key findings include:

Celebrity culture (68%), the fashion industry (53%) and advertisers (52%) are the three elements that MPs view as being the most responsible for negative body image among the British public

MPs support Government facilitating a voluntary code of conduct (56% agree) and policies for more responsible marketing and advertising (52%) to address body image issues

Over one third (40%) of MPs agree that Secondary schools should have mandatory lessons on body image as part of either Personal Social Health and Economic education (PSHE) or through the core curriculum

Download Our Research

About the APPG

This All Party Group exists to raise awareness of some of the issues around body image particularly to MPs from all political parties and to policy makers. The APPG was established in May 2011 and over the course of this Parliament we will work towards:

  • Bringing together interested parties, from a range of sectors including:
    • Advertising industry
    • Health and fitness sector
    • Media
    • Youth organisations
    • Fashion and beauty sector
  • Highlighting areas of best practice
  • Examining potential causes of negative body image
  • Showcasing new research on body image

A word from Caroline Nokes MP

“As a mother of a teenager I am only too well aware of the enormous pressure facing everyone, but especially young people, who are confronted on a daily basis with unrealistic and unattainable beauty ideals. As Chair of the APPG on Body Image along with my Parliamentary colleagues and a host of organisations, we are determined to change attitudes and to confront the causes of body image dissatisfaction. Building on the great work that my predecessor Jo Swinson MP initiated and the Campaign for Body Confidence, the APPG on Body Image will now take forward this campaign. Following on from the APPG on Body Image Inquiry into body image dissatisfaction and the subsequent report, Reflections on body image we will now work together to take forward the recommendations contained in the report.

Our Inquiry found while the causes of body image dissatisfaction are manifest, we need to ensure that advertisers, the media, schools, parents and industry take a responsible approach. And as if we need reminding ourselves why we are doing this? Over half of young people say that appearance is the main focus of bullying. Young people avoid certain activities for fear of drawing attention to themselves. Low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders are all increasing; along with unhealthy behaviours: half of young people have been on a diet, one in 10 would take laxatives to lose weight and the number of young men taking steroids has doubled in the last 10 years. And body image dissatisfaction even has links to our ongoing problems with obesity. And as a former Councillor with responsibility for leisure I know only too well that body image insecurities can hold people back from participating in healthy activities.

There has been progress. Advertisers are aware of the need to provide more authenticity in their campaigns – including less reliance on retouching and greater body diversity. Schools, teachers and parents are acknowledging the need to provide a place for young people to explore body image issues. And there is a huge amount of support from the public to change the status quo.

With your support we can change all of this. I urge you to read our report. Write to your MP to seek their support. Encourage your school to provide body image lessons. Join our mailing list. Tell us about irresponsible advertising. And work with us to make a difference.”