Southend youth launch national Body Image campaign

Young people who have volunteered with Southend YMCA have been selected to launch a national body image campaign.

Joey Be Real3The campaign comes as new figures have been released that 16 million young people in the UK describe themselves as being depressed about the way they look, with 18 million citing body image anxiety as the reason why they don't exercise.

The survey also identified that 1 in 4 have let body confidence issues hold them back from fulfilling a relationship, and 1 in 5 avoiding going for a job they wanted.

The survey has identified what has been described as a 'crisis' and an 'epidemic' by some organisations, leading to a cycle of depression, anxiety, short-term dieting, cosmetic intervention and eating disorders.

The findings marks the start of Body Confidence Week and a new campaign launched by YMCA's nationally in partnership with Dove, aiming to change attitudes to body image and encourage people to put health above appearance.

An All-Parliamentary Group on Body Image heard evidence that girls as young as five were worrying about their appearance, with 60% of adults concerned about their image. It is believed that this has been a contributing factor to the 20% rise in cosmetic surgery.

Kelsey Hibbard, a volunteer for Southend YMCA remembers secondary school as a miserable experience, even worrying about the shape of her eyebrows and the size of her forehead, she said:Kelsey Hibbard

"No-one seemed to notice at primary school, but then in Year 7 everyone started pointing at me, noticing things, making me think I was ugly and not special, [the bullying] it was awful"

Kelsey, now 20, runs a mentoring programme called 'Loud Education' which goes into schools to train teachers on body confidence issues.

Alongside Joey Bevan and Eleanor Bleach, also former volunteers for Southend YMCA, Kelsey has joined in with pioneering the campaign across print and TV media, with articles featuring on Sky News, Channel 5, BBC News, The Telegraph, Huffington Post and the Sunday Times to name but a few.

Joining the three volunteers has been celebrity designer and presenter, Gok Wan, who believes 'Real bodies should be celebrated because everyone is unique'.

Joey Be RealThe campaign itself has been launched with partners including the advertising association and eating disorder charities, the Girlguiding association, parent charities, high street retailers including Debenhams and social media platform facebook.

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive for YMCA England said "When we feel bad about how we look, we make bad choices about our health and are stopped from achieving our full potential".

The campaign is calling for education changes to support young people with body image, for health organisations to support long-term healthy living and to promote diversity by media, advertisers and publishers to use positive body image portrayals.

To join the growing momentum for the campaign, for advice and resources visit, follow on twitter: @bereal_campaign and tweet a selfie with #bereal in your picture to support the campaign.


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