A new survey about body image has been published from the Women and Equalities Committee, as part of their 'Changing the perfect picture: an inquiry into body image.'

As part of their inquiry, the Committee wanted to find out about how different groups of people feel about their body image and what influences those feelings. The survey received 7,878 responses, and the key findings were:

  1. The majority of people feel negatively about their body image most of the time.
  2. Lockdown made people feel worse about their body image.
  3. Under 18s want to learn about body image in school.
  4. People don’t feel reflected in the images they see in media and advertising.
  5. Images on social media have a big influence on young people.
  6. People want change.

The survey is relevant to our own 2017 report on cosmetic procedures. During our inquiry, we looked at the drivers behind why people might consider cosmetic procedures, such as the pressure to look a certain way, and the impact of an increasing rate of images of the self and body on social media or other platforms.

Council member, Professor Clare Chambers, will be providing evidence to the Committee today for this inquiry. We also submitted written evidence earlier this year.

Our report made several recommendations related to body image, including:

  • Social media companies, such as Facebook and Instagram, should collaborate and fund research on how social media might contribute to appearance anxiety, and how this could be minimised; and act on the findings.
  • The Department of Education should include evidence-based resources on body image through compulsory parts of the curriculum.
  • The ASA and CAP should prohibit advertising that is likely to create body confidence issues, or cause pressure to conform to unrealistic or unhealthy body shapes.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission should develop and publish specific guidance on appearance-based discrimination, based on the requirements of existing equality legislation.

Professor Clare Chambers said:

“It’s the responsibility of government and others to foster an environment in which we can feel happy with our bodies as they are and make genuine choices about whether to work on how we look, to allow us all to flourish mentally and physically."

We look forward to reading the full report of the Committee, and to providing more information, if required, to the inquiry. We hope that the inquiry will lead to Government action.