Girls in Grip of Low Self-Esteem; They're More Image-Conscious Than Ever

Article excerpt

Byline: Lisa Salmon

PARANOIA about appearance in adolescence is not uncommon but it is pulling ever younger children into its self-conscious grip.

Research by the Dove Self-Esteem Project found that seven per cent of girls felt under pressure to look beautiful when they were as young as eight.

This figure rises steadily to 27 per cent by the time they are 11, by which stage it's forcing them to opt out of everyday activities, such as swimming or even putting them off speaking up in class.

Body image expert Professor Andrew Hill says an increasingly image-based society and constant access to visual media, makes the problem worse.

"You can certainly pick up this apparent lack of self-confidence in girls as young as nine and 10," he said.

"Nowadays, we often tell others about our lives not through words but through pictures via phones and computers and there's a vast array of celebrity mags with pictures telling a clear story about acceptability or unacceptability of physical appearance."

is " Possibly as a result of unrealistic perceptions about the way girls should look, the research found 47 per cent of 11 to 14-year-olds admitted opting out of what should be normal activities because they don't like how they look.

Such a pronounced effect on these girls' lives is clearly worrying, but Prof Hill points out this reticence about being noticed has always been an issue for young people.

Although the age it starts is getting lower in modern times, the basic feelings behind it are the same as ever. …