Girl Guides target airbrush images of "perfection"

Wed Aug 4, 2010 11:30am EDT
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British Girl Guides have demanded Prime Minister David Cameron introduce labeling to distinguish between airbrushed and natural images of women in glossy magazines and advertisements.

Girlguiding UK, the country's largest organization for girls and young women, said on Wednesday it had launched a petition demanding Cameron take action to help "shape a generation of self-confident girls and young women."

The petition comes after research last year by Girlguiding UK, the Girls' Attitudes Survey, showed 50 percent of 16-21 year-old girls would consider having surgery to change the way they look and 42 percent of 11 to 16 year-olds admitted watching what they ate or had cut down on certain foods.

Chief Guide Liz Burnley said the survey and everyday experiences working with girls and young women gave the Guides an understanding of how profoundly girls and young women feel the pressure to conform to a particular body image and how badly they can be affected by unobtainable ideals.

"We are proud to support the calls of our members who believe that it is time the Prime Minister addressed their concerns and acted in the interests of girls and young women across the country," Burnley said.

Girlguiding member Natalie Fontaine said in a statement that that airbrushed images of models, celebrities and even "ordinary" women in magazines and adverts can really affect the self confidence of girls and young women.

"Most of us have no idea how significantly these pictures are altered and are shocked when they realize that the images they have of celebrities and models are not a reality," she said.

The chief executive of eating disorder charity Beat, Susan Ringwood, said that young people with eating disorders tell the charity that being surrounded by pictures of unnaturally "perfect" bodies made their own recovery so much more difficult to achieve.

"We know the difference it would make to all young people's self esteem and body confidence if they could be sure which of the images they see are natural and true to life."

(Editing by Steve Addison)