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Girls As Young As Seven Unhappy With Body Image

Posted Nov 03 2009 10:01pm

A survey has revealed the worrying facts that young girls at just seven years old would choose to change the way they look while 50 per cent of 16 to 21 year olds would opt for surgery to attain the ideal figure.

Girlguiding UK undertook the research, which revealed that 95 per cent of 16 to 21 year olds are not happy with their bodies - 33 per cent wanting to be thinner, while another quarter would resort to surgery.

“We all compare ourselves to our peers, whoever they may be and for girls and young women, their peers are usually other young women,” said Dr Kerry O’Brien, a Psychologist at the University of Manchester.

“For them, as with others it is about finding their place in the world and wanting to compare favourably. Unfortunately, considering the approach of the media, that is often not the case.

“Many girls try to measure up to an image which is not a true reflection and can feel that they are coming up short,” he added.

In the 11 to 16 category, 12 per cent said they would opt for a gastric band or cosmetic surgery while five per cent would consider using Botox to attain their ideal look.

Thankfully less seven to nine year olds wanted to lose weight - with just five per cent claiming they wanted to be thinner. However this figure went up to 12 per cent for the 10 to 11 category and 27 per cent for 11 to 16 year olds. In the 7 to 11 cateogory, 72 per cent wanted to change something about the way they looked - with the most common change being their teeth!

Jo Swinson, a Liberal Democrat MP, said that young girls were being bombarded with pictures that are an “unrealistic idea of what is beautiful means” while her party are trying to ban airbrushing.

“This report highlights the worrying number of teenage girls who are going on extreme diets or even considering cosmetic surgery because they’re unhappy with the way they look,” she said, adding, “Airbrushing means that adverts now contain completely unattainable images that no-one can live up to in real life.

“Girls shouldn’t constantly feel the need to measure up to a very narrow range of digitally manipulated images.”

The Girlguiding UK survey asked 1,109 girls a variety of questions on subjects relating to binge drinking, eating disorders, plastic surgery, sexual health and body image. The questionnaire also revealed that over 25 per cent of 11 to 16 year olds had got so drunk in the past that they had been sick or lost control of their actions.

Chief Guide, Liz Burnley said, “Political debate is constantly grappling for solutions to these issues, under the intense scrutiny of the media spotlight, but the one group whose views are not sought are the young women they affect.”

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