UK & World News
Celeb Pics Used To Teach About Body Image
Pictures of celebrities before and after they have been airbrushed, slimmed and enhanced are being used to help parents talk to their children about body image.
They are featured in a Government-backed leaflet that encourages adults to sit down with children as young as six and show them how digital trickery is often used in magazines and adverts to make models and film stars look perfect.
The guide, which will be made available online, warns that enhanced images are giving both girls and boys a distorted sense of reality and low self-esteem.
It uses before-and-after touched-up images of celebrities such as Britney Spears and Keira Knightley to help get the message across as well as offering tips on how to talk about the subject.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone described the new pack as a way of empowering parents to "have those difficult conversations" with their children.
"Young people are being set an impossible standard by images in media and advertising which can erode their self-esteem. As parents, we are often aware of these issues but may not have the advice and guidance we need to talk to our children," she said.
Research carried out by Girl Guiding UK found that 75% of 11 to 21-year-old girls diet to look more attractive.
Parenting expert Sue Atkins has been involved in developing the booklet and believes family support is vital.
"We need to talk and we need to teach our kids that these programmes and things are all airbrushed, that people have spots in real life and that we get rid of them very quickly, that people are not necessarily as slim as they look and children need to know that and pass that confidence onto their children so that they don't grow up feeling bad about themselves," she said.
Sky News showed mother-of-two Caroline Cottom the new booklet. She already monitors what magazines her son and daughter read.
"My children do realise that images aren't always as that person is, but I don't think all children realise that and I think this booklet is very useful from the point of view that it can help parents to explain to their children that not everyone looks perfect," she said.
Earlier this week a coroner blamed the fashion industry for the death of 14-year-old Fiona Geraghty, who was found hanged in her home last year after suffering from the eating disorder bulimia.
Michael Rose, the West Somerset Coroner, called on magazines and catwalks to stop using thin models.
The parent pack follows a similar guide for primary school teachers, which has been downloaded 1,500 times since its launch last year.