Research conducted by YMCA uncovers evidence of body image anxiety in 11 to 16 year olds

The Be Real Campaign, founded by YMCA and Dove, launched the Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools in January 2017.

Aimed at secondary schools and made up of essential guidance, materials and advice on teaching body confidence in the classroom, the toolkit has been created on the back of research that found:

  • 52% of 11 to 16 year olds worry about how they look
  • 30% of 11 to 16 year olds isolate themselves from certain activities because of body image anxiety
  • 36% of 11 to 16 year olds said they would do ‘whatever it takes’ to look good, including considering cosmetic surgery
  • Only 48% of young people surveyed had learned about body confidence in school
  • Of those who had learned about body confidence in school, 76% said it made them feel more positive about themselves.

The toolkit is now available for all secondary schools to download. Schools taking on the toolkit may also download the #BeRealSchool badge to promote their body confidence commitment in school and on social media.

Read Somebody Like Me research, conducted by YMCA, news, blogs and young person stories below or go to the Be Real Campaign website for more information.

If you would like your local YMCA to talk about body confidence in your school, please get in touch.

Somebody Like Me Be Real body confidence research

Somebody Like Me

Young people are facing increasing pressures relating to their appearance. While a focus on the importance of appearance in society is by no means a new phenomenon, many young people today are struggling to escape the constant barrage of messages they receive about how they should look and how they should behave. Somebody Like Me aimed to give young people the space to discuss and share their experiences to create practical solutions that both they and others can take forward to help tackle body image anxiety in the UK.

Download the research

Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools

The Be Real Campaign, of which YMCA is a founding partner, has produced a body confidence toolkit to help secondary schools and academies teach body confidence in the classroom and as a whole-school approach. Secondary schools are a key setting for young people to discuss and challenge body confidence issues, with both teachers and students playing an important role in how this happens.

Download the toolkit

Young people’s views on body image anxiety

YMCA held 12 focus groups across England, Wales and Scotland to inform its Somebody Like Me research, giving young people the opportunity to discuss and share their experiences. Here, they tell us how body image anxiety affected them and what they think can be done to help young people feel more confident in their bodies.

Read our stories
Denise Hatton, CEO of YMCA England & Wales

Creating body confident schools the first step in tackling body image anxiety

In her latest blog, Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of the National Council of YMCAs in England and Wales, says that while there are healthy responses to issues like looks and appearance, there can also be actions that are more sinister and harmful that can impact on young people’s long-term mental and physical health.

Read the blog
Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools launched

Almost a third of 11 to 16 year olds isolate themselves because of body image anxiety

Almost a third (30%) of secondary school pupils isolate themselves to avoid activities because of low body confidence while more than half (52%) regularly worry about how they look, according to major new research from the Be Real Campaign.

Read our press release