According to findings, unrealistic beauty standards are increasing the pressure that girls feel to look a certain way
Posting photos online should be a fun way to express yourself and stay in touch with friends and family, but new findings from Girlguiding’s annual Girls’ Attitude survey has highlighted a worrying trend among young people.
In their survey of 1,473 girls and young women aged 11–21, 34% of respondents reported that they would not post a photo of themselves online without first applying a filter or using an app to enhance it.
Considering where this attitude may have come from, researchers point to the fact that 54% said that they had seen online adverts that had made them feel pressured to look a certain way – a stat that jumps up to 67% for LGBTQ+ young women and girls.
While using filters and photo editing apps can be a fun and creative experience, there are real-world consequences to this culture that can’t be ignored, as 39% of girls admit that they feel upset they can’t actually look the way they do online – leading a staggering 80% to consider changing their appearance.
15-year-old Girlguiding Advocate Panel member Alice believes that these findings are just a snapshot of the daily struggles that young women face in 2020.
“The ‘perfect’ images girls are encountering in their daily lives is having a devastating impact on girls’ self-esteem and confidence, which not only negatively impacts their wellbeing but adds to pressures they already face in their lives,” Alice explains.
“These enhanced images create a false society where how girls look is perceived to be the most important aspect about them. It prevents them from being able to be themselves or feel confident to do the things they want to, now and potentially in the future, and with the increased time spent online during lockdown, this could get much worse.”
That lockdown has exacerbated these feelings, is something that Angela Salt OBE, Girlguiding chief executive, is particularly concerned about.
“Young people are an important part of our recovery, but they are undoubtedly one of society’s hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic,” Angela explains. “We are proud to be able to offer girls and young women help and support to navigate these relentless pressures and aim to extend our reach further, so even more can benefit from the support Girlguiding provides.”
With their peer education programme and wellbeing and resilience tools, Girlguiding are determined to support young women as they navigate the challenges that lie ahead.
But what else can you do to build a better relationship with yourself? We explore the practical steps that you, and the young people in your life, can begin to take to develop a strong sense of self-love in our September issue.