30 October 2012

Fitzgerald Publishes Findings on Young People's Body Image

·        77% of participants ranking body image as important to them; 43% dissatisfied with their body-image.
·        Irish teenagers are more sensitive to concerns over body-image that in other countries.

Local T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD, last week launched ‘How We See It: Report of a Survey on Young People’s Body Image’. Young people from right across the country participated in this study which was carried out directly on foot of a key recommendation from Dáil na nÓg 2010 which noted the lack of national data on teenagers’ body image; decided that this was an issue worth researching.

Minister Fitzgerald stated: “Well done to all the young people who participated in this important survey. From meeting with young people right around the country I feel that it is representative of Irish young people in general. The Survey found that body image is a burning issue for young people in Ireland, with 77% of participants ranking body image as important to them. 57% of the young people surveyed expressed some level of satisfaction with their body image, which means 43% were dissatisfied.”

The Survey also found that almost 2 in 3 participants say they feel pressurised to look good for other people. More than half say that comparing themselves with others impacts negatively on their body image and that their body image interferes with their participation in activities such as swimming, dating and putting photographs on Facebook. The report also contains a number of international comparisons. For example, in Australia only 32% of young people surveyed identified body image as a major concern for them.

Responding to the findings Minister Fitzgerald stated: “Having conducted this Survey; and having found how Irish teenagers are more sensitive to concerns over body-image than in other countries, I think there is an onus on all of us to understand this survey and its detailed findings”.

“Growing up is never easy. But for some young people it can prove particularly tough. It is clear that for many young people concerns over their body image can be a source of much stress and pressure. International studies repeatedly stress the serious social and health issues associated with negative body image, such as eating disorders, use of artificial supplements, interpersonal relationship problems, excessive exercise, withdrawal from participation and being subjected to teasing and bullying,” continued Fitzgerald.

“We must all be open to these concerns and we must all work to promote positive body image awareness, in particular in response to the ongoing policy debate surrounding bullying and youth mental health,” concluded Fitzgerald.