Lib Dems launch Campaign for Body Confidence

Congratulations to Lib Dem MPs Lynne Featherstone and Jo Swinson for helping to organise a panel debate this afternoon in Parliament – to coincide with International Women’s Day – on measures to tackle the harm caused by pressure to conform to unrealistic and unhealthy body image ideals. The event marked the launch of the Campaign for Body Confidence.

The panel featured Lynne (the party’s shadow equalities minister), Clothes Show presenter Caryn Franklin, psychotherapist Susie Orbach and Dr Helga Dittmar of the University of Sussex. Other attendees included Girlguides, Linda Papadopoulous and the world’s leading body image experts.

Here’s what Lynne had to say about it:

Since the Liberal Democrats launched the Real Women campaign last year, we have been inundated with messages of support from people who are fed up of the constant pressure to live up to totally unrealistic ideals of beauty.

“Unrealistic and unhealthy ideas of what’s beautiful mean people suffer with anything from low self-esteem to serious eating disorders, which is why we are launching the Campaign for Body Confidence. Politicians, media figures, modelling agencies, mental health experts and ordinary people will be asked to pledge to campaign against this dangerous trend.”

Jo was interviewed by Total Politics magazine about the campaign, and gave this answer to what practical measures can be introduced:

The Liberal Democrats’ Real Women campaign has proposed a number of measures which could be taken to tackle body image pressure. We have suggested that advertisements should be more honest, and those which contain airbrushed images of people should carry a label telling people the extent to which the image has been altered. This proposal was recently backed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. …

Today’s panel discussion will be attended by politicians, media figures, modelling agencies, mental health experts and ordinary people, who will be asked to pledge to campaign to tackle this problem. We will put together a steering group of experts to take forward the Campaign for Body Confidence, who will meet on a regular basis to drive the campaign forward. We have already dramatically increased the number of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority over airbrushing in adverts and will continue to do until the rules are changed.

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  • Andrew Suffield 8th Mar '10 - 7:37pm

    I find it a little tiresome how everybody with body-image issues seems to blame society for it.

    Not really fond of this “label shopped images” proposal, as it just means you have a big fake image with small print that says it’s fake. I’d be more inclined to treat them as a variation on false advertising – any attempt to pass off a shopped image as a real one is deceptive, and deception is generally prohibited in the media. Let the creator pick any suitable way to indicate that the image is not real, and let the courts decide whether it is sufficient, rather than legislating another warning label.

  • Andrew Suffield 9th Mar '10 - 2:35am

    What research there is, is poorly cited. The recent Home Office review cites a single source about the impact of shopped images, and it’s a Lib Dem sponsored position paper that itself cites no sources.

    So, that research you want people to avail themselves of – can you cite any of it?

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