Boys worry about body image too, say teachers

 

Boys as well as girls are obsessed with their body image and many have low self confidence in their physical appearances as a result, according to a survey of children’s attitudes spotted by teachers in their classrooms.

Children as young as four are worried about getting too fat, the report says, with one early years teacher telling researchers: “I work with four to five-year-olds and some say things like ‘I can’t eat cheese, it will make me fat’.”

While it is commonly reported that many young girls are unduly sensitive about their body image, the survey of nearly 700 teachers by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers reveals more than half (51 per cent) believe boys are also affected.

The majority (63 per cent) said there was now more pressure on young people to have a particular body image than there was 10 years ago.

One teacher at a secondary school in Northern Ireland said: “In my year 11 GCSE English class the girls all openly admitted to feeling pressure about body image and many of the boys confessed to it, too, although they said usually they wouldn’t admit to it affecting them.”

Asked to list the celebrities their pupils most aspire to look like, 57 per cent singled out RnB singer Rihanna, with Harry Styles of the pop group One Direction as the most popular male with 40 per cent support.

Others included Cheryl Cole (50 per cent), Justin Bieber (38 per cent), David Beckham (36 per cent) and Jessie J (34 per cent).

Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said: “With academic and other social pressures, young people already have enough to deal with. Comparing and competing not only with their peers on looks, but with airbrushed celebrities in the media only leads to misery.”

Both ATL and the National Union of Teachers will debate the effects of body image pressures on pupils at their conferences over the next fortnight. A motion before NUT delegates says they are “deeply concerned...at the rise of what has commonly known as ‘raunch culture’ where the old sexism of the past has been rebranded by big business”.

“Playboy bunnies adorn children’s pencil cases, pole dancing is sold as an ‘empowering’ form of exercise and the ‘beauty pageants’ of old have become a staple diet of student life’,” it adds.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Reach Volunteering: External HR Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable