A “body confidence” badge is to be launched by Girlguiding UK to challenge myths about how women should look and prevent unhealthy eating habits.
The badge, which says “free being me”, will be awarded to Guides who complete a training course and help spread the word about fashion industry scams such as altering photographs and the dangers of trying to be too thin.
A Girlguiding survey found that one in five primary school-age girls had been on a diet and 38 per cent of girls aged 11 to 21 had missed meals to try to lose weight.
The badge is in keeping with the modern Girlguiding movement, which has discarded badges such as “homemaking” and was described by its chief executive Julie Bentley in 2012 as the “ultimate feminist organisation”.
Chief Guide Gill Slocombe told The Guardian that the body confidence programme would have “a huge impact on the lives of thousands of young people across the UK”.
Nearly 1,000 “peer educators” aged between 14 and 25 have been trained to help promote the message.
One of them, Jenna Nicholls, said the survey’s findings were “quite scary… as is the fact that people are seeing this as acceptable behaviour”.
“I have seen friends go through eating disorders, really suffer from self-confidence issues,” she said. “It’s always there, there’s always that constant expectation to look a certain way.”