Jo Swinson now works on body confidence in her role as Minister for Women and Equalities. Further information on the Coalition Government's work can be found here.
Why body confidence matters
We live in a society where children as young as five now worry about their size and appearance. 1.6m people in the UK suffer from eating disorders. Steroid abuse is on the rise.
The pressure to conform to the impossible ‘ideals’ of beauty in the media images that surround us is leading to low self esteem and a whole range of unhealthy and damaging behaviours.
Since 2008 I’ve been working to tackle this problem – in Parliament, with business and now as Women and Equalities Minister.
We’ve had some success already. The Advertising Standards Authority responded to my complaints about excessive retouching by banning four adverts and issuing new guidance for advertisers. Just look at recent campaigns by Debenhams and Boots No 7 that have decided not to airbrush their models in favour of celebrating natural beauty and diversity.
The Coalition Government has published free online resources for teachers and parents to help young people understand how the media and celebrity culture can affect their self-image, and how they can develop resilience to it. You can download these at www.mediasmart.org.uk
We have lots more action planned, both within Government and through the wider campaign of volunteers that I co-founded in 2010.
Changing the culture around body image isn’t going to be easy, but increasing numbers of people are saying enough is enough. The next generation shouldn’t have to grow up thinking body dissatisfaction is normal.
Past work in Parliament
Jo secured a debate on the effect of media images on the body image of women and girls in January 2010, the transcript can be found here:http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=2010-01-11c.529.2
Also please find below links to parliamentary questions Jo tabled on the issue:
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image
Jo Swinson co-founded the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image a cross-party group of MPs which published a report into the consequences of body image anxiety in May 2012.
Sample media coverage surrounding the report’s launch:
School children need body image lessons - BBC News
Girls aged five worry about their body image, say MPs - The Guardian
The current chair is Caroline Nokes MP and more information can be found at the following website: http://www.ymca.co.uk/bodyimage/
How to complain about a misleading advert
If someone in the UK takes issue with an airbrushed advert they can make a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority here: http://www.asa.org.uk/Consumers/How-to-complain/Online-Form/Step1.aspx
Ms. Swinson was successful in having a number of adverts banned this way including an Oil of Olay ad featuring Twiggy and L’Oreal Ads featuring Julia Roberts, Christy Turlington and Rachel Weisz.
Twiggy's Olay ad banned over airbrushing - The Guardian
Jo's new stories on Body Confidence
Related Organisations and Websites
Adios Barbie – a website promoting healthy body image and self-image for people of all cultures and sizes.
All Walks Beyond the Catwalk - a fashion industry initiative collaborating with designers and professional models to challenge some of the industry’s long-held ideas about female size, shape and age.
Any Body – a non-profit organisation encouraging a change in cultural attitudes towards bodies, food and eating so that women and children of the next generation can learn to be happy in and look after their bodies.
B-eat - a leading UK charity for people with eating disorders and their families.
Centre for Appearance Research – an academic research centre at the University of West England which focuses on appearance-related concerns.
Central YMCA - a health charity using advocacy and education to change attitudes toward health, including body image.
Girl Guiding UK - Girl Guiding UK conducts research and campaigns around girls’ health, self-esteem and body image.
Pink Stinks - a campaign and social enterprise that challenges the culture of pink which invades every aspect of girls’ lives.