The purpose of this research was to investigate young people’s experiences of appearance-based bullying.
The relationship many young people have with their appearance is a negative one. It is a relationship that is powered by constant comparisons with others, self-doubt, and in some cases, crippling insecurities.
For many, this relationship is reinforced by an explicit barrage of messages, comments and even physical attacks, which tell them their appearance is not good enough and is deemed in some way unacceptable by those around them.
It is clear comments and criticisms of young people’s appearance have become part of everyday life. However, while largely expected by young people, such criticisms should not be accepted.
As such, ‘In Your Face’ seeks to challenge the norms by allowing young people the space to discuss their views and experiences to reveal the real impact of appearance-based bullying on the lives of individuals in the UK, and to create practical solutions that can be implemented to tackle the problem.
Bullying around appearance is an inevitable evil for young people
- More than half of young people (55%) have been bullied about their appearance.
- Two fifths of these (40%) experienced this bullying at least once a week.
- or most people experiencing this bullying (54%), this starts by the age of ten years-old.
The most significant impact this bullying has on young people is on their mental wellbeing
- More than half of young people (53%) who had experienced appearance-based bullying said they became anxious and a quarter (29%) said they became depressed as a result.
- Three fifths of young people (60%) took action to change their appearance as a result of the bullying they received.
- The most prominent focus being to change their size and body shape, with almost a quarter (24%) of young people dieting and nearly a fifth (19%) doing more exercise.
While social media adds a new dimension to bullying, traditional forms still prevail
- Nearly nine in 10 of those who had been bullied about their appearance (87%) experienced verbal abuse.
- Of those young people who had experienced bullying based on their appearance, more than one quarter (26%) were cyberbullied.
- Four in five young people (80%) who had experienced bullying related to their appearance did so in school or college.
- More than half of young people who had experienced this bullying saying it had come from either their acquaintances or peers (53%) or their friends (51%).
The quantitative fieldwork for ‘In Your Face’ was conducted by Youth Sight, which surveyed more than 1000 secondary school pupils aged 11 to 16 years old from across the UK. To supplement this, YMCA also held focus groups in 12 locations in the UK with young people aged between 11 and 16 years old. The fieldwork was carried out between August 2017 and February 2018.
Download the full report
Download the Executive Summary