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Youth organisation leader urges change on media portrayal of body image

The leader of a youth organisation in Scotland has warned about the increasing pressures on body image for boys and teenagers ...

Bill Stevenson, director of The Boys' Brigade in Scotland, has warned about the growing pressures on boys and young men to achieve the "perfect body".

"The Boys’ Brigade works with thousands of young people, teenagers and children on a weekly basis, so we come across a variety of issues that they face.

"As the findings from the Credos think-tank survey indicates, over the years, stresses have changed and we’re seeing an increase in pressure from advertisers for people to achieve a “perfect body” image, especially in males. Between 24/7 access to online news, social media and instant access to images from across the world, more and more young people are feeling the need to attain a certain type of body image.

"At the BB, we’ve seen an increase in the number of young men going to the gym, which from a health benefit perspective is great, but there’s also the danger that people try and change their physique by putting their bodies through excessive strain.

"Sadly, statistics show that cosmetic surgery, muscle-enhancing drugs, and skipping meals, is on the increase in eight-to-18-years-olds in a bid to achieve their idea of perfection. We are urging advertisers to take a step back and ensure a more equal representation of body image.

"It’s no longer just female images in the media that are photo shopped to be slimmer, but increasingly male images to make them appear more muscular. If a more realistic examples of body image were represented in the media, it could help create a more positive example to young people, some of whom currently feel the pressure to achieve unrealistic results.

"As an organisation we encourage young people to grow as individuals and are doing more to help adult leaders be more aware of young people’s mental wellbeing. Hopefully we can help, our members at least, see themselves as positively as possible and help empower young people to feel their best, no matter their body shape." 

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