We’re supporting the Be Real Campaign after new YMCA research revealed today that half of young people have been bullied about the way they look, with many experiencing bullying at least once a week.
Most of the bullying focuses on weight and body shape, with 60% of young people admitting they tried to change their appearance after being bullied and 24% said they reduced the amount they ate or went on a diet. In some cases the effect was more severe with one in ten of those being bullied about their looks having suicidal thoughts and 9% saying they self-harmed as a result.
The research was carried out by YMCA England & Wales, which spoke to more than 1,000 young people aged 11 to 16 as part of its new report In Your Face, which is part of the charity’s Be Real Campaign with Dove.
Highlighting the devastating effects appearance-based bullying has on young people, the research also revealed that, contrary to popular belief, most young people experience this bullying in person (72%) and not online. A staggering 80% of those getting bullied about the way they look do so in school or college.
Become a Be Real supporter
We run youth projects across South West London, East London and South London and we’re calling on schools in these areas to become a Be Real School by using the campaign’s free Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools, which has already been downloaded by over 700 schools and colleges across the country.
Richard James, YMCA St Paul’s Group Chief Executive, says: “Bullying has always existed among young people, but this generation face increasing pressure to live up to unrealistic beauty ideals which they say come from celebrities, social media and the media.
“It’s crucial that we teach young people how to feel comfortable in their own body and that looking different isn’t a bad thing. Educating young people about the effects of bullying alongside body confidence will help to tackle this issue where it’s most prevalent, schools.
“We know from previous research that young people who have learned about body confidence at school feel better about their bodies. We want schools to use the Be Real Campaign’s Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools to help their pupils navigate this image obsessed society we live in.”