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Girl Guides launch body confidence badge to combat low self-esteem

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Girlguiding UK launched a new body confidence badge today to combat an image crisis and low self-esteem among teenage girls.

The badge, which reads "free being me", will be awarded to girls who undertake a training course and help spread the word on unhealthy body talk, the dangers of becoming too thin, cosmetic surgery and fashion industry tricks such as airbrushing.

It's part of a wider BRAVE scheme Girl Guides are undertaking with the Dove Self-Esteem Project (promoting real women's bodies), whereby girls aged 10 to 14 will learn about the "body image myth".

The initiative will also be extended to Brownies aged seven to 10, who will explore the unrealistic premise of girls being portrayed as princesses.

The body confidence Girlguiding pledge

The campaign comes in response to the 2013 Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey, which found - depressingly - that one in three girls are unhappy with how they look and one in five girls aged 7-11 have been on a diet.

"Young people today are under constant pressure to conform to impossible and unattainable standards of beauty is a society obsessed with image and appearance," said Laura Ede, chair of Girlguiding’s peer educators, a young adults group who will lead the discussions and help promote the message.

"'Free Being Me' shows young people just how ridiculous this ‘image myth’ really is – teaching them to value their bodies and celebrate diversity – so they are never put-off doing something because of the way they look," she told the Telegraph.

She added that with younger girls in Brownies, "We’ll get them to think about princesses and what they look like and can you get someone to look like that?"

One in five girls of primary school age has been on a diet, the survey found

Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2013 found:

  • One in five girls of primary school age has been on a diet
  • 38 per cent of girls aged 11-to-21 say they have sometimes skipped meals to help lose weight
  • One in four girls aged between 11-to-21 would consider cosmetic surgery
  • 87 per cent think they are judged more on looks than ability

Jenna Nicholls, one of the peer educators taking part in the campaign, told the Guardian that it was time to tackle "scary statistics" on body confidence.

"I have seen friends go through eating disorders, really suffer from self-confidence issues. It's always there, there's always that constant expectation to look a certain way," she said.

Jenny Willott, Lib Dem MP for Cardiff, is also backing the Girlguiding BRAVE campaign.

"Low body confidence is a serious issue which has been linked to depression, obesity, low aspirations and eating disorders," she said.

"It’s really important that we all work together to challenge our culture of unrealistic imagery and the pressure to be perfect. We need to raise girls’ aspirations and inspire them to achieve their goals because of who they are and the talent that they have."

We couldn't agree more. See more about the BRAVE project on the Girlguiding's website here.

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Rex and Girlguiding UK

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