Health expert claims schoolboys should tell girls about their 'ideal woman' to improve body image

Dr Aric Sigman has written a book about body dissatisfaction

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The Independent Online

A child health expert has sparked outrage on social media after he claimed boys should inform girls about their "ideal woman" at school to help them with their body image.

Dr Aric Sigman, who has written a book called The Body Wars: Why Body Dissatisfaction Is At Epidemic Proportions, said in a debate on Sky News that men were the key to reducing eating disorders and insecurities in their female counterparts.

"Men have a very different and much kinder take on female body fat, sex appeal, eating and weight loss," he said.

"Knowing what men think can actually serve as an antidote to the prevailing assumptions that feed body dissatisfaction."




Joining the debate, Natasha Devon, founder of body confidence campaigner group the Self-Esteem Team, slammed Sigman for his claims that boys could help with female body image as they are "much more forgiving of female body fat".

Ms Devon said: "It unsettles me that Dr Sigman’s opinion essentially boils down to the idea that young women should invest their self-esteem in the opinions of the men around them.

"Our relationship with our bodies and sense of self-worth shouldn’t be subcontracted to anyone. It should come from within."

Dr Sigman has previously come under scrutiny for his studies.

In a Newsnight interview, Jeremy Paxman chaired a debate between Ben Goldacre of and Dr Sigman about claims that social networking websites could "reprogramme" children’s brains.

Sigman had claimed in a Biologist article a few days earlier that social networking sites were harmful to health.

Goldacre suggested that Sigman "selectively quoted" evidence in his article which supported his case, and "ignored" articles which showed there was no relationship between social networking use and isolation: a central focal point in Dr Sigman’s essay.

Kate Hardcastle, founder of voluntary campaign Positive Image, told The Independent: "The lack of confidence in image, whilst affecting more girls, also affects‎ boys too. Why is the solution based around a young girl seeking an approval barometer from an older boy?

"Whilst it's true that what men and women seek in a partner is often not the high standards we set upon ourselves, improving the confidence in young people goes so further beyond dating/relationships."