Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Guide urges confidence for children

A guide showing how magazines touch up images of celebrities will include before and after pictures of famous people such as Britney Spears

A Government-backed guide to help parents teach their children to be confident about their bodies has been launched.

Parents are encouraged to make youngsters aware that many depictions of celebrities and models are enhanced in some way through the media and advertisements.

The guide stresses the notion that the so-called perfect body, and the emphasis on skinniness, is a "socially and culturally constructed ideal". The pack contains before-and-after touched-up images of celebrities such as Britney Spears.

Earlier this week, a coroner blamed the fashion industry for the death of 14-year-old Fiona Geraghty, found hanged in her home last year after suffering from eating disorder bulimia. Michael Rose, the West Somerset Coroner, called on magazines and catwalks to stop using thin models.

The new parent pack was described by Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone as an important contribution to the Government's campaign to boost body confidence among children.

She said: "Young people are being set an impossible standard by images in media and advertising which can erode their self esteem. As parents, we are often aware of these issues but may not have the advice and guidance we need to talk to our children."

The parent pack follows a similar guide for primary school teachers, which has been downloaded 1,500 times since its launch last year.

Both are produced by Media Smart, a non-profit organisation that aims to teach 6 to 11-year-olds to think critically about what they see in the media.

Sue Minto, head of ChildLine, said: "It's vitally important for children to learn from a young age that image isn't everything and that if they don't look like a model - which most of us don't - it's not the end of the world."

"Last year more than one in 10 calls we had about bullying were related to body image. It seems to affect those mostly in the 13-16 age range but it's crucial children are taught at primary school that it's wrong to target someone because of their looks."

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