Scottish Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader and MP for East Dunbartonshire Jo Swinson, has again urged advertisers and retailers to use models covering a diverse of sizes, ages and shapes in their advertising and media campaigns to reflect the reality of different body shapes and to promote healthy body image.
Co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence, Ms Swinson is currently chairing a Parliamentary Inquiry into the causes and consequences of body image anxiety.
Her calls come as the retail market floods with health fads and “miracle weight-loss products screaming out at people to diet as part of New Year resolutions. Ms Swinson is concerned that this will have a damaging effect on public health.
Commenting Ms Swinson said:
“After Christmas, the market is awash with dieting advice as people try and lose extra pounds put on over the festive period.
“These drastic diet plans often promote weight loss in an unhealthy way, and the vast majority of people who follow them will end up weighing more than they did before they started the diet.
“It is really important to adopt a healthy lifestyle but I am concerned that this constant bombardment of unrealistic diet advice is having a really negative effect on society, especially young people. Evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry in December from psychiatrists specialising in eating disorders clearly stated that extreme dieting is most often the trigger for eating disorders developing.
“I have campaigned tirelessly to urge advertisers and retailers to recognise the consequences and damage done by constantly flooding the market with a narrow range of unrealistic images of what the industry deems to be beautiful.
“We need to go further though. We need to empower our young people with the confidence to have a positive body image, happy in their own skin. This needs to be part of our young people’s classroom education. Children are growing up with the idea that body dissatisfaction is a rite of passage, and this needs to stop.
“Liberal Democrats believe in the freedom of companies to advertise but we also believe in the freedom of young people to develop their self-esteem and to be as comfortable as possible with their bodies.
“I want more focus on encouraging young women and men to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and to recognise that their value comes from who they are and what they do, not just what they look like.”
Notes to Editors
APPG on Body Image:
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, a cross-party forum for MPs, is currently conducting an inquiry and monitoring on an ongoing basis the causes of body image anxiety and exploring what steps can be taken to promote body confidence. It brings together some of the key players in this debate including representatives from youth organisations, the advertising industry, the fashion industry, the health sector and media.
In 2011 Central YMCA launched its first major campaign – to promote better body confidence for all. The campaign sets out to tackle society’s obsession with body image ideals and to promote better body confidence. The ultimate goal is for everyone to be healthy in mind, body and spirit and to be more confident!