Combating Body Confidence

14 Jan

Gillian Delany

How many of us are really happy with our bodies? How many of us would say we are at out perfect weight? Well not many it would seem according to a survey by Children and Youth Affairs Minister Frances Fitzgerald. According to the report ‘How We See It: Report of a Survey on Young People’s Body Image’ 43% of people are dissatisfied with their body image. This is nearly half of the people surveyed. So what can be done to help people combat their demons on their body image?

The Survey found that body image is a huge issue for young people in Ireland, with 77% of the participants ranking body image as important to them. 57% of the young people surveyed said they had some level of satisfaction with their body image; leaving 43% were dissatisfied. The Survey also found that almost 2 in 3 participants say they feel pressurised to look good for other people. More than half say that comparing themselves with others impacts negatively on their body image and that their body image interferes with their participation in activities such as swimming, dating and putting photographs on Facebook. The full report can be found on the articles website.

The report also showed comparisons with a number of international countries such as Australia where only 32% of young people surveyed identified body image as a major concern for them.

Speaking on the report Minister Fitzgerald said:

‘Having conducted this Survey; and having found how Irish teenagers are more sensitive to concerns over body-image that in other countries, I think there is an onus on all of us to understand this survey and its detailed findings.’

Here the minister talks about the report.

How can be improve body confidence? 

The report also gave a number of recommendations on how to combat the issue. It suggested that there is a need for a national positive body image awareness campaign aimed at teenagers. It said that schools should incorporate body image into the mainstream curriculum, that regular talks should be given on personal development and that canteens should provide healthy food options for students.

This move by the minister shows a much needed push in the right direction to deal with this issue which has swallowed up many of our youths, however are the recommendations realistic and will they be implemented?

Is it realistic?

We have seen time and time again reports being given on various issues but nothing comes about of it. Recommendations are given but are never enacted into law or rarely put into practice  So with the current economic climate and the never ending cut backs by the government is it realistic that this report will change anything is area of body image? Personally I think not, although it is nice to see the recognition by the government that there is a serious issue among teens regarding body image I don’t see it taking any priority over other matters in government i.e the state of our ailing economy! For now we are just going to have to focus on getting good advice out to out youths.

Dr  Linda Papadopoulos a well known philologist who works with channel 4 on a number of their body image shows gives a list of tips on how to gain body confidence.

Here Dr Papaopoulos talks about body image. She points out that body confidence is the one of the biggest issues for woman.

She also gives her tips on how we can all overcome our own body confidence. Full article available here

Here are her top tips!

1. Notice the things you like.

She believes that when we look in a mirror we only concentrate on the things we don’t like. In order to help ourselves be satisfied with our looks we must concentrate on the features we do like and the areas we are proud of on our body! This may be easier said then done!!

2 Focus on Today

We must only focus on what we look like today and not re minis about our youthful years!

3 Value Your Character

Dont pin your opinion or self esteem on how you look. In order to have true confidence we must value our characteristics and our own personality that makes us who we are.

4. Invest in Yourself

We have to appreciate all things outside our physical appearance and focus on all the positive thins we can do e.g play an instruments, write etc

5. Be Physically Active

Physical activity can help our self esteem. Those who do regular sports generally have higher self esteem than those who do not.

6. You’re Not an Object

We are more than just our bodies and physical appearance

7. You’re Not in a Competition

We are not in a contest with anyone so don’t compare yourself to anyone!

8. Define Your Own Beauty

We must define what we believe is true beauty and not be bogged down in what other people say it is.

Looking at Others 

Maybe we should also look abroad to help find a way to truly combat body image here in Ireland. In the UK they have countless programme’s dedicated to raising awareness about body image and a healthy lifestyle as mentioned in Body Image and the Media. In Ireland however we do not have such a platform. We have Operation Transformation which has seen its youngest ever contestant a college student,but the  Buck stops there!

In the UK the government have started a Body Image campagin. The government has convened a group of experts to identify non-legislative solutions to tackle the causes of low levels of body confidence. They are also working with a range of organisations to help deal with the low levels of body image!

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