Lynne Featherstone launches body confidence teaching pack

Video also available on YouTube.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has today launched a new teaching pack to help children understand how images in the media are altered and the impact these have on self esteem.

From the Home Office:

The teaching pack developed by not-for-profit company Media Smart marks an important contribution to the government’s ongoing Body Confidence campaign.

Primary school teachers will be able to download the materials to structure a lesson specifically tailored to the 10-11 age group, an important stage in a young person’s development.

Pupils will be guided to look carefully at the images they see in order to gain a more realistic perception of what is real and what is not. The lessons will explore how and why idealised images in advertising and the media are used to construct particular messages and make people feel a certain way.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: ‘Young people are being set an impossible standard by the images they are confronted with on a daily basis from the media and advertising and there is evidence to suggest this has a negative impact on self esteem.

‘I want children to recognise from an early age that their value is worth so much more than just their physical appearance.

I am delighted to have worked with Media Smart to produce this important work.’

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  • I’m just curious – are there any Liberals who are made slightly uncomfortable by the idea of politicians being involved in producing material to be used to teach young school children about social issues?

  • Quite astonishing that a Tory-led government should be promoting such a campaign. A significant marker of Lib Dem influence in this coalition.

  • Ruth Bright 1st Oct '11 - 8:49am

    Chris – quite. It would be really something if the coalition acted against food manufacturers who tout junk food to children.
    Imagery has always been distorted and always will be.

  • John Carlisle 1st Oct '11 - 9:27am

    Fiddling at the margin! Our big challenge is having a successful business economy and worthwhile jobs for this generation. Let’s have some ideas, dammit.

  • Stuart Mitchell 1st Oct '11 - 12:46pm

    “I want children to recognise from an early age that their value is worth so much more than just their physical appearance.”

    I don’t remember her saying that when she happily picked up her award for “Most Fanciable MP”.

    Actually the big, big problem with this whole “body confidence” movement is the way in which it invariably villifies women of one particular body type (specifically: thin women) supposedly in order to increase the self-esteem of women of a different body type (specifically: “plus size” women).

    It’s all in the language. Featherstone regularly uses terms like “emaciated”, “super skinny” and the frankly abusive “stick insect” to describe women she considers to be too thin. Meanwhile when talking about women like Christina Hendricks she uses gushing words like “curvy”, “absolutely fabulous” and “role model”. I don’t see how this is consistent with the aim of making ALL women feel good about their bodies.

    (Incidentally, while I must stress that Hendricks has credited “weight gain” for her ballooning bosom – Google for comparison photos if that’s your interest – it’s worth noting that the association for British cosmetic surgeons, which revels under the acronym BAAPS, has credited Hendricks for the recent dramatic increase in breast implant operations. I wonder why Featherstone isn’t blaming Hendricks for this situation in the same way that she blames thin models for eating disorders.)

    Unfortunately, by regularly praising certain body types and criticising others, Featherstone is part of the problem here, not the solution.

    I recommend the following highly thoughtful blog post for a much better analysis of the problem with Featherstone’s approach than I am capable of :-

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