So has the rise of social media played a part in these stark findings? It would certainly seem to be fuelling the fire. Negative body image has been a problem for some time now and as we discovered, the Be Real campaign found that girls are starting to diet from as young as eight years old.
Our World of Good report also showed that body image was one of the top three concerns for young people. It revealed the vulnerability of young people to such issues and suggests the very real, lasting damage caused by low self-esteem.
Rosi Prescott, our Chief Executive, said: “It may be that today’s generation enjoys higher living standards than in the past, but the now well-established – and growing – critical issues facing young people around negative body image; increasing educational expectations and the impact of ‘always-on’ social networks are causing genuine harm, and to an ever-widening cross section of young people within our society.
"Our approach here at Central YMCA is to challenge the relentless focus on appearance and strongly promote the value of diversity in all its glory, recognising as we do the importance of health not just in body, but mind and spirit too. Body confidence doesn’t arise from your physical being alone, it’s primarily a state of mind.
"So how can we help to reform these mind-sets, particularly now that men are following women down this well-trodden path? Sensitive approaches to education, alongside positive role models, are key as is consistent and authentic messaging across all interactions with young people, whether virtual or in person.”