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Girls' body confidence - what do you think could improve it?

(194 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 07-Jan-11 17:18:51

Hello everyone!

Lynne Featherstone, the Minister for Equalities, is chairing a Roundtable on Body Confidence at the House of Commons. She wants to get up to speed on the work that various independent groups are doing in this area, in order to champion them within government and get as much support for their work as possible.

One of the topics under consideration is sexualisation, and following our Let Girls Be Girls campaign we've been asked to come up with some proposals. We're going to push for the government to get behind our Lads' Mags campaign - but we also thought it was a good moment to ask for your thoughts more generally about body confidence issues and what, if anything, you'd like to see policy-makers doing.

So do please fire away - what else do you think could be done generally to improve the body confidence of young girls?

Meglet Fri 07-Jan-11 17:23:30

Off the top of my head and speaking as someone who refused to do PE at school I would have loved private changing at school and not having to wear PE knickers / skirts.

Being fit and exercising are such a boost to how you feel about yourself but IME being stuck in a manky open changing room and feeling exposed in PE knickers and gym skirts does not boost confidence. (I have made up for it years later and love the gym these days, but only change in the cubicles and certainly don't wear sodding PE knickers).

msrisotto Fri 07-Jan-11 17:34:39

Well targeting the sexual objectification would mean the focus on girls would not be so heavily biased on physical appearance. Page 3 needs to go. It is pornography and has no place in a 'newspaper'. It should be bundled in with lads mags and put on the top shelf, covered up if they insist on keeping it. Why do so many girls aspire to be Jordan? Want bigger boobs, diet etc if it's not due to this overt sexualisation of women over men?

I think TV needs to be more tightly regulated, things like the infamous performance on X Factor should never have happened.

The let girls be girls and pink stinks campaigns are on the right lines also.

Metherbumfit Fri 07-Jan-11 17:42:42

Message withdrawn

sethstarkaddersmum Fri 07-Jan-11 17:47:41

I would like to see a concerted effort to stamp out sexual bullying in schools; it should be treated as as unacceptable as racist bullying but it is not.

see, eg, this campaign by Womankind Worldwide: here

Girls are frequently bullied and harassed because of their appearance, for example if they don't fit the accepted beauty norms, or if they stand out because of something like having large breasts, for instance; the evidence suggests this is not often clamped down on as much as it should be in schools, who take a 'boys will be boys' attitude to much of the harassment.

This is something the government really could take a lead on, eg by ensuring that schools all have policies on sexual bullying and harassment; schools should be guaranteed to be comfortable and safe learning environments for everyone and for many girls this is something that is currently undermining that.

Vanillacandle Fri 07-Jan-11 17:49:22

I think young girls need to see more real women around them on magazine covers, shop window mannequins etc. So much of the information they get on appearance is not to do with keeping healthy but how to make yourself look "perfect" (or at least how to look like XYZ celebrity). Let's stop them aspiring to perfection and teach them that so long as they look after themselves properly (diet, skincare, haircare, exercise etc) then how they look is absolutely fine. If we were all meant to be clones of Kate Moss, we'd all have been born like that.
My DD is slender and has always been on the 25th centile for weight, but because she is now a teen and has a just about noticeable rather than concave tummy she has asked if she needs to go on a diet! Fortunately the look of horror on my face helped to convince her that she does not!

I also think teen magazines and teen fiction should not be emphasising sex - so many of the things my DD reads are about boyfriends, kissing, do they have sex yet etc because there is nothing else other than horror stuff on the shelves. Can't anybody write proper stories any more?

I wholeheartedly agree with the let girls be girls and lads mags campaigns, btw.

minipie Fri 07-Jan-11 17:52:33

I would like to see more images of real women - not models, not actresses, not airbrushed.

And I don't mean carefully selected real women a la Dove either. I mean "picked randomly off the street" real - women with flab, bad skin, saggy boobs, hairy arms etc.

This might do something to knock down the myth that thin and flawless is "normal" or "usual". Might also make girls who have "imperfections" feel a lot better about them.

The govt could kick start this by using said real women in their ad campaigns (might save on modelling fees too).

minipie Fri 07-Jan-11 17:53:31

cross posted Vanilla! great minds

Metherbumfit Fri 07-Jan-11 17:59:39

Message withdrawn

LeninGrad Fri 07-Jan-11 22:47:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

isitmidnightalready Fri 07-Jan-11 23:04:24

The M&S adverts of women dancing around in underwear winds me up everytime. Totally unecessary. Also crap mags like Hello that have shocking front page photos and lines "Katie Price - is that cellulite on her leg???"(Close up of a shadow on her leg) " Why xyz has not yet lost her baby fat" (Bikini photo of a normal looking celebrity with a tiny fold of skin at the belly).

OverThinkGal Fri 07-Jan-11 23:05:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

piprabbit Fri 07-Jan-11 23:26:15

I think it would also be good if young girls (by which I mean primary age) got the chance to see more images of girls and women being fit and active. Both in relation to simply participating in sport (yes, girls can run around too), but also in understanding what healthy bodies look like i.e. muscles, breadth of shoulders, normal-sized breasts etc.

There very, very few women to be seen regularly on TV participating in sport, or in the newspapers. Even their successes are not always reported.

Shanaze Reade is a great role model and sportwoman. It's really inspiring to read the Sunday Time Sportswoman of the Year list.

Angelmist Sat 08-Jan-11 00:54:01

Girls take the lead from their mothers and when their mothers don't lead the way they turn to the next best thing.....their friends, magazines and the media for guidence. Very few children will go directly to an adult for help.

The government hasn't helped families by legislating into every avenue of family life to the extent that parents don't feel comfortable about chastising or disciplining their children. Children have taken advantage of the position adults find themselves in and we now have a world in melt down.

The first step to giving girls and boys their childhoods back would be for all adults to become role models for children. At the moment children see adults and teenagers drunk and disorderly on TV in the many police programmes after the watershed, in their homes or the homes of friends and family members. Many children sit up till late at night watching TV that many adults find distasteful. The more we expose children to drugs, alcohol abuse, and domestic violence the more they will think these behaviours are normal and the more young people will become involved in these destructive pastimes themselves.

The damaged society we are was caused by adults and now must be fixed by adults. Every adult I know thinks its funny or a buzz or cool to get drunk. Attitudes in adults have to change in order for children to get their childhoods back. Parents have to be parents and not their children's best friend. Adults have to earn the respect and trust of children for any worthwhile change to happen.

PocketMouse Sat 08-Jan-11 02:10:39

I don't think that there should be a campaign for images of fat middle-aged women on the front of magazines.. that's a backwards step IMO.

Regarding the self image of young girls,the thing that strikes me most is the same thing that strikes parents of very young children; they all develop at astonishingly differing rates. Some girls will sprout breasts at 9, others at 15. I suspect both groups have difficulties within their peer group, but that's more to do with jealousy or feelings of inadequacy than anything that More magazine is telling you... the fact that your best mate is a 34C and you're practically inverted is far more of an 'influence' than the cover of a fricking magazine...


StrawberrySam Sat 08-Jan-11 07:09:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StrawberrySam Sat 08-Jan-11 07:13:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tee2072 Sat 08-Jan-11 07:16:17

Angelmist I am an adult I do not think it is cool or whatever to get smashed. So I think your generalization is false.

I do think we need more real women on magazines and on TV. Fat, scarred, hairy, what have you.

CheerfulYank Sat 08-Jan-11 07:28:23

I think encouraging girls to take part in sports would help. Focusing on getting your body to be strong and healthy rather than skinny and attractive would be a start.

Prinnie Sat 08-Jan-11 08:12:19

One thing I have thought for a while is that where an image of a person has been airbrushed/photoshopped it should be stated in at least size 8 font on the picture/advert that it has been airbrushed, and then the original should be available to view on a magazine's/advertisers website.

Surely airbrushing is almost false advertising and I think promotes a very unrealistic ideal (to all of us!)

I also agree about an emphasis on sport and activity, and the desexualisation issue is a major player here. I'm not that old (26) and when I was a teen, music videos were nowhere near as sex driven as they are now - anyone remember B*witched in their full on denim?! Women are so objectified in these videos it makes me Music should be about the music!!!!! (oh god am I turning in to an old fart?!)

Tee2072 Sat 08-Jan-11 08:47:57

I wouldn't say take part in sports, but take part in activity. I know I was rubbish at sports but studied dance for years.

chimchar Sat 08-Jan-11 09:00:56

i have worked as a youth worker for years. we often used magazines as tools for discussions.

i'll never forget the look of horror on the young peoples faces when they saw an article in a womens mag about 5 "real life" women who had stripped naked.... some were slim, some curvy, some big boobed etc... none airbrushed (all saggy baggy bits on show!) their idea of a good body is that of the super skinny, toned, hairfree, tanned body, not the reality that everyone has imperfections. they all confessed to feeling inadequate and worried that they were the only person in their peer group with spots/cellulite/stretch marks/wobbly tummy/small boobs etc..when in fact, most of them had figures/skin/hair to die for.

the boys incidentally, felt the same when showed mens fitness type mags.

i think the sort of gok wan approach of accepting what you have, and making the most of the bits you have confidence in is a good start...

EauRouge Sat 08-Jan-11 09:03:27

Sport or dance would be fine but a lot of schools are offering cheerleading which I don't agree with. I would not want DD doing that.

Yes, and the music videos, gah! I don't have the music channels any more but I went to a friends house and during the day there were videos of semi-naked women grinding their hips all over the place.

Tee2072 Sat 08-Jan-11 09:05:07

Actually, cheerleading takes a lot of athletic ability. I would have no problem with a child of mine being a cheerleader. And I have a boy!

CheerfulYank Sat 08-Jan-11 09:05:50

Right, tee. I think anything physical is good. Something that emphasizes that your body is a thing for you to use, not something for others to look at.

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