London: Girls as young as seven in the UK are under pressure to look good, according to a new study which found that about a quarter of them do not feel happy with their appearance.
These young girls between seven and ten years old, also believe that women are judged on beauty and not brains, researchers said. Their fear that people will criticise their bodies holds them back from doing everyday things they would like to do, they said.
The survey by Girlguiding, a charity organisation in the UK, showed a steep five-year decline in girl’s body confidence, with 61 per cent aged 7 to 21 feeling happy with how they look today, down from 73 per cent in 2011.
“This year’s Girl’s Attitudes Survey demonstrates the shocking impact that focusing on girl’s appearance is having on the youngest girls in society,” said Becky Hewitt, Girlguiding Director.
“Girls have told us to stop judging them on how they look. Every day in guiding, girls inspire us with their bravery, sense of adventure and their kindness,” she said.
A third (36 per cent) of the girls said people make them think that the most important thing about them is how they look. A quarter (23 per cent) of them felt they need to be perfect.
Almost one in six (15 per cent) young girl felt ashamed or embarrassed of how they look and one in three (38 per cent) feels they are not pretty enough. One in three (35 per cent) agree women are judged more on their appearance than their ability.
The girls said the most important thing to improve their lives now would be to stop judging them on the way they look, according to the researchers. The report showed that one in 10 girls (10 per cent) aged seven to 10 have had people say ‘mean things about their bodies’ most of the time or often.
It underlines the urgent need to listen as young girls call for an end to women being judged on their appearance. Girl’s Attitudes 2016 is a survey of 1,627 girls and young women aged between seven and 21 who were asked about their attitudes on a range of issues from health and wellbeing to relationships and careers.
The questionnaire was adapted to be suitable for different age groups (7-11, 11-16, 16-21), with some core questions asked of all groups.