We’re becoming increasingly aware of the younger age at which children begin noticing and even worrying about how they look.
General inquisitiveness and comparison with others, which is a natural part of growing up, is often being replaced with genuine anxiety and pressure to conform to a particular image. These body ‘ideals’ are usually fuelled by TV, magazines, online content, and then fanned into flame in friendship and peer groups.
Now a number of well-known celebrities, for whom body image is often of major importance, have been interviewed for a special Newsround programme looking at the effect these issues have on everyday life.
“Being Me – A Newsround Special” will air on Tuesday 31 March on CBBC (and thereafter on the BBC iPlayer).
It features names such as gymnast Louis Smith, actor Julianne Moore, Meghan Trainor, Blue’s Simon Webbe, and professional dancer Kevin Clifton.
Meghan Trainor, who wrote and recorded “All About That Bass”, said, “To all the kids who are young… and feel uncomfortable and awkward, just know it gets a lot better as you grow and we need to learn to love ourselves at a younger age because I don’t think we love ourselves enough.”
Research from the Children’s Society suggests many children spend up to seven hours each day consuming some kind of media, across smartphones and tablets, TV, gaming, and through advertising.
It’s clear that parents in particular have a responsibility not only to monitor how and what their children are viewing and listening to, but to reinforce positive messages about body image.
Children also need to know that they can seek help from others – such as either parents, teachers, or telephone advice lines such as Childline – should they experience negative thoughts and feelings about themselves, feel anxious about the way they look, or are teased/bullied because of their appearance.