YMCA holds Be Real Campaign workshop at local school

January 17, 2017

YMCA Humber supports Body Image Pledge to help people be confident in their skin.

A local youth charity has thrown its support behind a new Pledge released this week that aims to increase body confidence across the UK and urge industries to reflect real people in their work.

YMCA Humber is backing the Be Real Campaign’s new Body Image Pledge calling for more diversity within the advertising, fashion, music and media industries. The Pledge responds to research highlighting the real harm poor body confidence can cause to society, after women and men interviewed by the campaign said they wanted advertising to be more reflective of what people really look like.

Founded in 2014 by Dove and YMCA England, the national council of YMCAs across England and Wales, the Be Real Campaign works with organisations and individuals to changes attitudes to body image and put health above appearance.

The campaign’s Body Image Pledge – which YMCA England has signed up to among other organisations – was designed for industry organisations, providing them with a set of core principles to encourage healthy body image in the long term. By signing up to the Pledge, organisations demonstrate their commitment to taking ownership of the development of more responsible advertising and communication to reflect the UK as it is today.

The Pledge

The Pledge calls on the advertising, fashion, music and media industries to:

  • Reflect diversity
  • Reflect reality
  • Promote health and wellbeing
  • Promote the Pledge

Jonathan Byrne, YMCA Humber Events and Marketing Lead, said:

“We know from our youth work that there is a growing pressure on young people to look a certain way.

“Every day, young people are bombarded with heavily Photoshopped images of what they are told by the fashion, music, media and advertising industries is the ideal body type. However for most people, achieving this ‘ideal’ is almost always unobtainable, unhealthy and damaging. We are seeing this lead to greater anxiety, starting at a younger and younger age.

“Industries have a responsibility to promote a healthy body image and reflect the true diversity of the population with all the different shapes, sizes, skin tones, ages, genders and ethnicities that make up our society today.

“Only then can we truly become a body confident nation where our mental and physical health is put above appearance.”

Individuals can get involved with the Pledge on social media by sharing their thoughts about positive body image using #PledgeToBeReal.

Locally, YMCA Humber held a Body Confidence workshop as part of continued sessions with Year 6 pupils at Tetney Primary School.

Some of the discussions with pupils centred on the knock-on effects of young people perhaps avoiding school because they are concerned about their looks, which meant they would not be learning so that they can gain qualifications and move into employment.

Pupils also said that they are already aware, at age 11, of the media portrayal of the ‘perfect image’, particularly in models and reality TV stars and that they already prefer to look up to celebrities for their achievements, rather than their ‘looks’.