LDVideo: Jo Swinson MP on new body image report

Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson has today launched Reflections  on Body Image, a report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image, which suggests that children as young as five years old can be worried about their weight and looks.

The report makes a number of wide ranging recommendations from giving children body image and self esteem lessons in school to requiring advertisers to use a more diverse range of models to looking at whether the Equality Act needs to be amended to cover appearance related discrimination to challenging the evidence base that supports dieting and the idea that low weight guarantees health.

Jo has had an exhilarating day doing the rounds of the various media outlets from the Today programme to BBC Breakfast to Sky News.

Here she is talking to Bill Turnbull on BBC Breakfast this morning:

She also spoke to me at length this afternoon. I’ll do a more detailed post covering her comments in the next couple of days.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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13 Comments

  • Rebecca Hanson 31st May '12 - 8:14am

    I thought Jo came across well for the Lib Dems here. Shame she was wearing a red jacked to people may assume she’s labour.

    I think the Lib Dems should be actively recruiting people who can present like her.
    It’s quite easy to find possible candidates, e.g. (from 2:50 onwards):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-umzzKMPpCI&list=UU_S9WtkH5IbTqsWfq8mILFA&index=2&feature=plcp .

  • Stuart Mitchell 31st May '12 - 8:50am

    The report is the usual morass of jumbled-up thinking – unscientific, hypocritical, and making proposals which are deeply illiberal.

    Images of thin women are apparently to blame for both anorexia AND the obesity epidemic, which is quite impressive. I’m only surprised the report doesn’t blame thin women for the financial crisis as well.

    One of the worst things about this campaign is that they are giving vulnerable people explanations for their problems which are ludicrously simplistic and wrong. This doesn’t help anybody. A few weeks ago on BBC Breakfast they featured a young girl who was recovering from anorexia. Under gentle pressing from the interviewer she revealed that her illness had been preceded by the death of a close relative and some extremely unpleasant bullying at school; she also admitted that she did not think media imagery had played any part in what happened to her whatsoever. Despite this, she had somehow come to the conclusion that the appropriate repsonse to her experience was to campaign against “airbrushing”, though she couldn’t actually explain why.

    This kind of thing is dangerous. It doesn’t help people to give them fatuous non-explanations for what are serious and deep-rooted problems.

    My other big beef with the body confidence campaign is that it actively encourages women to do the very thing which they are supposed to be against, i.e. taking a negative view of people who just happen to have a different body type. The public submissions published by the campaign contain some really appalling comments about thin women. Quite how a campaign which claims to be in favour of “body confidence” can be happy to publish this kind of stuff is beyond me.

  • “I thought Jo came across well for the Lib Dems here. Shame she was wearing a red jacked to people may assume she’s labour.”

    Oh look – young woman politician goes on telly and what does she get criticised for……….

  • Stuart Mitchell 31st May '12 - 1:02pm

    David Pollard: Your comment is pretty offensive.

    Do you worry that any young girl who wants to be a successful singer (probably a more common ambition than marrying a prince in this day and age) feels like she has to weigh as much as Adele? Or is it only thin women you have a problem with?

    The whole point of the body confidence campaign is (or at least SHOULD be) that a woman should not be judged on or subjected to bitchy comments about her shape, whether that shape resembles the Duchess of Cambridge or Adele. Both should be acceptable.

    And for what it’s worth, if you cast your mind back to the previous two women to marry a British prince, neither of them were exactly thin.

  • Stuart Mitchell 31st May '12 - 1:10pm

    “…the previous two women to marry a British prince…”

    Correction, make that three.

  • >And for what it’s worth, if you cast your mind back to the previous two women to marry a British prince, neither of them were exactly thin.

  • >And for what it’s worth, if you cast your mind back to the previous two women to marry a British prince, neither of them were exactly thin.

    (desperately tries to remember women who have married British Princes recently, and fails miserably)

    Kate Middleton
    Camilla Duchess of wherever
    Sophie Rhys-Jones
    Fergie?

    Was it Lady Di before that?

    It’s hardly a parade of stick figures, is it – which seems to me to be a good thing.

  • Stuart Mitchell 31st May '12 - 2:23pm

    “It’s hardly a parade of stick figures, is it – which seems to me to be a good thing.”

    And yet Kate Middleton – whose figure would have been considered nothing out of the ordinary 20 or 30 years ago – is the subject of endless unpleasant speculation about whether she is “anorexic”. The Reflections on Body Image report seems to have been written by inhabitants of a parallel universe in which all media representations of thin women are positive, and thin women just go around thinking how fantastic they are all day. It’s a very unbalanced report.

  • Rebecca Hanson 1st Jun '12 - 10:42am

    @ Hywell: “Oh look – young woman politician goes on telly and what does she get criticised for……….”

    No Hywell – I compliment a Lib Dem politician for doing a good job and pointing out it’s a shame people will associate them with Labour rather than the Lib Dems because of the colour of their jacket. I might have said the same if a male politician was wearing a bright red tie but the impression is far less obvious so I may not have done. If the Lib Dem are going to have a strategy of dressing their women in black tops and trousers and bright single coloured jackets why don’t they go the whole hog and actually think through the colours of the jackets?

    Shame you can’t see the difference between criticism associated with body image and discussion about the way a party are advising their MPs to dress which is totally unrelated to body image. Perhaps you’ll claim I’m only saying that because you’re a homosexua l/ heterosexual/ bisexual /young woman/old woman/young man/old man/ child/delete as appropriate.

    If you disagree with my comment then that’s absolutely fine – please say so. But criticising it on the grounds of it’s link to body shape issues is not constructive as it isn’t linked.

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