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Campaign For Body Confidence: Jo Swinson MP interview

March 8, 2010

To coincide with International Women’s Day, the Liberal Democrats today announced their Campaign For Body Confidence. To celebrate, they are holding a panel debate in Parliament on the measures used to tackle increasing pressure to conform to idealised bodily forms.

Debate chair Jo Swinson MP gave her thoughts:

1. Why is it important that we tackle body image pressure on women and girls?
Body image pressure is a serious and growing problem in our society, which can lead to low-self esteem and even serious eating disorders. It affects the mental and physical health and well-being of women, girls, men and boys.

2. Where is this pressure coming from?
We believe the pressure is coming from many different directions. Cultural norms in our society tell us that people have to look a certain way – thin, perfect skin, shiny hair, and so on – and many people have internalised those norms and are putting pressure on themselves to achieve unrealistic ideals of beauty.

3. What are some of the things that we can do about it?
The Liberal Democrats’ Real Women campaign has proposed a number of measures which could be taken to tackle body image pressure. We have suggested that advertisements should be more honest, and those which contain airbrushed images of people should carry a label telling people the extent to which the image has been altered. This proposal was recently backed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

4. What do you hope today’s panel discussion will achieve?
Today’s panel discussion will be attended by politicians, media figures, modelling agencies, mental health experts and ordinary people, who will be asked to pledge to campaign to tackle this problem. We will put together a steering group of experts to take forward the Campaign for Body Confidence, who will meet on a regular basis to drive the campaign forward. We have already dramatically increased the number of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority over airbrushing in adverts and will continue to do until the rules are changed.

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