Young people left 'deeply unhappy' by social media pressure for perfect body

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, is to host a national conference next week aimed at tackling body image anxiety in young people.

The 200 delegates will share their knowledge and resources in support of the bishop's 'Liedentity' campaign, which she launched in 2016.

Many young people struggle with body image.Benjamin Voros/Unsplash

According to research by the YMCA, more than a third of 11 to 16-year-olds said they were willing to do 'whatever it takes to look good'. The Children's Society statistics demonstrate that a third of girls are unhappy with their appearance.

Treweek said: 'In today's world many young girls and boys are sourcing their identities from social media and advertising, often losing their self-esteem in the process. They are bombarded with messages of what the "perfect body image" is and for many undermining their true identity. We know that for these young people having negative thoughts about how they look can impact on their entire life, causing deep unhappiness and contributes to poor mental health.'

The conference will draw together some of the country's leading experts on body image and social media, with young people and representatives of organisations working with them.

Key speakers will include Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, associate professor at the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, who will talk about the academic research into the causes, consequences and most effectiveness strategies for improving body image.

Liam Preston will speak about the YMCA's Be Real campaign and the Body Confidence toolkit for schools. Jim Davis from the Children's Society will talk through research from the Good Childhood Report.

Bishop Treweek said: 'The hope is that we can build a network of people and organisations, all working together and having a voice on this important issue. Since starting the liedentity campaign I have had the privilege to meet with a large number of young people and some of what I hear is so sad. Many of them hating how they look, causing issues with their self-esteem. The more we can raise awareness of this issue and link with others doing the same, the more powerful our message and support will be.'

The day conference is being held on Tuesday, February 20. A small number of spaces are still available; contact Lucy Taylor on 01452 835515,