Nathan, 14, took part in a focus group for our new research report Somebody Like Me. Below he tells us why he thinks young people are increasingly worried about their looks, in his own words.
With input from media and schools, there can be a lot of pressure to look a certain way or to be a certain height or to be really thin or to have loads of muscles. I find that pressure kind of makes you think about body image all the time.
I think the pressure comes a lot from the media. Most men on TV usually have muscles or look a certain way. Also at school, if you’re not a certain weight or you’re not a certain height people will be horrible to you because you’re not seen as attractive as people in the media.
I think it is kind of all media to an extent, films, TV, magazines and things like that. They never really show anyone who looks ‘normal’. They always use things like Photoshop on people to make them look better. I think that why a lot of young people feel pressured.
Body shaming in the media really annoys me. When they moan about celebrities for being overweight, a lot of normal people are ‘worse’ than that and it makes them feel bad about themselves. They think ‘if that’s fat, I must be severely overweight’.
I find it is quite of big problem, but boys will kind of hide their feelings, they are embarrassed to say something. I think it’s because they’d be seen as a bit ‘wimpy’ and not ‘manly’, because men are meant to be the tough and strong according to media.
Among my friendship group, none of us really talk about it because people get embarrassed about it. I think especially as I’m a boy, you kind of get a bit of stick if you say something like that. You want to hide it until you get home.
When people make ‘jokes’ about the way someone looks at school, it can knock someone down in some way. It can have a knock on effect on them, even if they don’t mean it to and they know it’s a joke. Subconsciously it can just eat away at your brain. You think they wouldn’t have said if it wasn’t true and I think that can lead to depression and anxiety.
I think it makes people want to hide away and not face things like school, which then effect their education, the grades they get and how hard they work at school.
It helps if young people have a close relationship with their parents because they can go and speak to them about this. If they’ve got a really good friend who they know will understand them it helps too. If not they’re not going to be too happy or comfortable talking about it to anyone and they’ll just hide it and let it bottle up inside them.