Leading article: The scourge of a poor body image


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The Independent Online

Given the seemingly endless images of unattainable – if not actually unreal – physical perfection splashed across magazines and billboards, it is hardly surprising that body image-related unhappiness is reaching epidemic levels. But the situation is no less appalling for being so predictable.

The 14-year-old bulimia sufferer whose suicide a coroner this week explicitly blamed on the penchant for stick-thin models is a particularly tragic example of a life unnecessarily ruined. But Fiona Geraghty was not alone in her struggles. There are as many as 1.6 million people suffering from eating disorders in Britain today, with children as young as five reportedly depressed about their appearance.

The Government-backed initiative to help parents teach their children that there is no such thing as a perfect body is to be warmly welcomed. And the call by MPs for mandatory classes in schools to address body image and self-esteem issues should also be heeded. But even together, they are just one part of the solution. Ultimately, only sustained pressure on the fashion industry, and a tightening up of the rules on advertising content, will get to the root of the problem.