#pleaseshare #childrenssociety #children #selfesteem #confidence
I am honoured to have been invited to write a blog in support of The Children’s Society and their mission to support young girls facing ever increasing pressure to look and act a certain way.
The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local projects, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn.
The charity also campaigns for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future.
“The Children’s Society’s Good Childhood Report 2016 uncovered alarming new findings about how feelings about appearance are affecting girls’ happiness. The research with thousands of young people discovered that girls’ happiness in Britain is getting worse, in contrast to boys’ happiness which is remaining the same.” The Good Child Report
Did you know that in recent years the happiness of young girls has fallen, while boys’ well-being is staying the same?
▪️More than a quarter of a million girls aged 10-15 across the country are not happy with their lives overall; one in seven of all girls in that age group. Whilst boys’ well-being is staying the same, girls’ is getting worse.
▪️The picture is even starker when it comes to personal appearance with a third of 10-15 year old girls not being happy with their looks.
▪️Separate research by the Office for National Statistics suggests that girls are much more likely to spend extended periods on social media, which has been linked to a higher risk of mental ill-health.
The Children’s Society has found that one in seven teenage girls feels unhappy with their life overall.
1 in 7!
From social media to feeling like you have to look, behave and act a certain way, there is so much for young girls to have to deal with out there and we need to be mindful.
I am supporting The Children’s Societies call to make emotional and mental health support available in all schools. I am currently studying to become a Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapeutic Counsellor. It is my passion to help others find their voice, self worth, self belief, courage and inner strength. I am so honoured to of been asked to write this blog, this call for action stands for everything I truly believe in.
Social media can be fantastic for keeping in touch with family and friends, sharing your adventures and sharing your world. The trouble is, in some cases it can be toxic.
We NEED to make sure that any young person experiencing emotional distress has somewhere to turn.
Join me and The Children’s Society in asking the Government to provide mental health support in all schools. Share this blog with friends and make social media work for teenagers!
The Children’s Society needs support to call on the Government to make sure mental health support is available in all UK schools. Please keep reading and then share this blog post with your friends.
“We’re really worried about the situation for girls and will be calling on the Government to make sure emotional and mental health support is available in all schools. We want to get people talking and bring people together to make a difference.” The Good Child Report
Pop sensation Jessie J is one of the many celebrities who support the Good Child Report.
“I’m backing The Children’s Society’s call for mental health support to be a requirement in all schools. I was bullied the whole way through school because of my appearance and this would have made a big difference to me. Just to understand I wasn’t alone and to be made aware of how to feel better.”
Source – Jessie J
Dr Miriam Stoppard OBE, doctor, author, television presenter and advice columnist also supports the report.
“It is deeply worrying that 700,000 girls in this country are unhappy with their appearance – this has serious implications for their mental health and well-being and must act as a wake-up call. It is critical that, as The Children’s Society’s Good Childhood Report shows, effective steps are taken. The Government needs to confirm its commitment to the needs of children and teenagers and make sure that all schools and colleges provide mental health and well-being support so problems are caught before they become crises.”
Source – Dr Miriam Stoppard
1 in 7 girls are unhappy with their appearance?
1 in 7!!
If you have a sister, daughter, niece or cousin, the chances are, she may be deeply unhappy with her life and the way she looks!
As a mother of a small girl, I hope the world can become a far more accepting, loving and friendly place by the time she reaches her teens. I hope and wish, with all my heart that the young girls of her generation will be in a far happier place than the teenagers of today. This will only happen if the world around them is supportive, encouraging, inspiring, accepting, character building and kind. This will only happen if our government puts the much needed support into place. Support that ensures, every child is listened to and understood.
I will tell my daughter how brave, beautiful, kind, intelligent and awesome she is everyday. I will also be true to her and honest. Honest about the world around her and the way people can be. I will tell her she does not need anybody’s approval and the only person she needs to please, is herself.
The support needs to be in schools. Most parents are extremely supportive and spend hours trying to build their child’s confidence. My Mum was so supportive and I could talk to her about anything and still can. She couldn’t be with me at school though and it was at school the anxieties manifested. Children need to have someone they can turn to within the school environment.
I was deeply unhappy with myself in my teens. I previously wrote a blog post and poem about these feelings called;
I was very tall and slim but felt huge compared to all the petite girls in my year group. I was a size eight but thought I was fat.
I felt that because I was so tall, I needed to be as small as possible so I could hide amongst the crowd. I felt like this big unsightly giant stomping through the school.
I can remember living on pints of water to suppress my appetite and I got so thin and run down, the school picked up on it. My Mum was visited at home, I had to be weighed at school and I was monitored during lunchtime. I was lucky, I somehow never took things far enough for this behaviour to consume me, however I found other ways to self loathe.
I couldn’t leave the house unless my hair and makeup were perfect. The anxiety I used to feel was crippling. I would literally pull at my hair and face if I didn’t look right. The anxiety would manifest as an anger outburst and always end in lots of tears. I would literally exhaust myself trying to look a certain way. I can remember ripping up a top because I thought it made me look fat and then being upset because I had really liked it.
I used to get in trouble for being late to school and late to class. I couldn’t go to a single lesson unless I had stood in front of the mirror and retouched my makeup or redone my hair! It was a compulsion, I had become obsessive about trying to look perfect in a world I never felt good enough for.
I was lucky, social media didn’t exist. Girls of today have perfection or what they perceive to be perfection thrown in front of them at every turn.
Their lives are posted all over social media and this leaves them extremely vulnerable and susceptible to cyber bullying and harassment. Think of all the cringeworthy things you got up to as a teen….we got away with it, the chances are your friend forgot to develop her disposable camera! Just imagine for one second what it would be like if all those moments were online for all to see. At the click of a button, lives can be turned upside down.
When I was in my teens sat at home, I only had magazines, pop stars and movie stars to compare myself too. In school, I’d compare myself to other girls.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a teenager and literally have access to other people’s lives, photos and messages 24 hours a day via social media.
We all get those days where we look online and feel really flat.
It always happens when you are having a bad day. You pop on and see that the woman from your school years is flashing a huge rock of a ring, new house or tropical holiday.
Her page is full of “hey guys, my life’s so great.” She posts pictures of her size 0 figure three days after giving birth. Her husband adores her, she manages to socialise every night and she is always shopping, her life looks amazing.
As adults we will look at her posts , feel crap about our own lives for a moment and move on. We realise that people tend to only post about the good parts of their life. The same woman is probably desperately insecure and feels the need to try to prove her worth with flashy pictures and posts. Some people need the validation of others to prove that their life is okay.
Imagine those feelings as a teenager on both sides of the coin. The young person needing validation, feeling like they need to go to any length to get it. Or the young person reading the posts and feeling incredibly inadequate and insecure. For many teens this is their reality and they haven’t yet gained the life skills necessary for putting things into perspective.
I had lots of friends that loved me and we did all the things that teenagers do. I still felt like I could never be good enough, pretty enough, thin enough or popular enough. I was forever searching for that missing part of me…..I never found it. I can’t imagine how I’d of felt if I’d been bombarded with images of perfection at the click of a button, every waking hour of my day?!
As I have got older, I have learnt to accept what will be, will be! I have learnt to love my body, it’s been through so much over the last few years and it’s still standing! My body has created two beautiful children and survived to tell the tale. My scars and imperfections are badges of honour from the journies I have travelled and endured.
If only we could see and understand in our teens just how amazing our bodies will be in the future. If we truly understood the journey of life and all it can throw at us, we would be determined to be strong, healthy, happy and focused. I think the trouble in our teens is that we live in this bubble and think that, that is all there is. There is far too much focus on what we look like and not enough focus on who we want to be.
I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do once school had finished. I didn’t know what to focus on and instead tried to be good at everything, setting myself up for a fall.
I needed guidance and someone to simply ask;
“What do you enjoy?”
“What are you interested in?”
Someone to be interested in me as a person.
I was lost and this only intensified the strive to be perfect and be noticed. Some kids are lucky, they are good at Science and they know they want to be a Doctor. They decide their goal and they go for it.
Some are great at sport and they follow that pathway and achieve great success.
Some however, simply do not know who they are, what they are or who they want to be.
These kids do well in most subjects, maybe have one they are great at, for me this was art. I remember being told “Artists never earn a decent living, you are better having art as a hobby.” In my teenage mind I felt like a failure, the one thing that I was good at had been belittled and made out to be insignificant.
Nobody explored my options with me in school. Little did I know, years later, I’d be teaching BTEC Art and design! I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d eventually work as a teacher?! I thought I wasn’t clever enough for a job in education and it took me till my 30’s to study and achieve my full potential.
The school I attended was very good at encouraging the kids that excelled in subjects and in turn created a whole generation of forgotten children. They excluded ….well sent the ‘naughty ones’ off on work placements and left the rest of us to drift.
Never let teenagers drift, this only leads to feelings of frustration, fear and lack of self belief and worth. These feelings internalise and manifest in many self destructive ways.
“There are so many things that are difficult about being a young person. There are so many pressures from your friends, from your family. You don’t know who you are going to be, you are trying to find who you are in a certain way.”
Source – A teenage girls thoughts from The Good Child Report
The Good Child Report would of been a massive support for me and many of my friends. I wasn’t the only person thinking these thoughts, there was a whole group of us who really couldn’t see just how beautiful, smart and intelligent we were. I look back and wish I could magically appear in those school toilets. Magically appear behind the frantic lipstick applying frenzy and say;
“STOP!!!…..Girls, please see what I can see, you are all beautifully unique, young, carefree and the world is your oyster. You are so much more than what you think you look like. You are amazingly important, deserving and talented young people and the world is waiting for you. Stop wasting time on trying to please others, use your time to make YOU happy and be all you’ve ever wanted to be.”
There has always been a need for far more self-esteem and confidence building in schools. There also needs to be obvious guidance and someone young girls can talk to, in confidence. Time to explore options and discuss fears of the future and time to self discover.
The children are the future, let’s make the future a happy place to be!