One in three girls aged 7 - 10 do not feel pretty enough according to a survey released today by Girlguiding UK.
The Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2016, published today, reveals a steep five-year decline in girls’ body confidence, with relentless exposure to media and digital images that objectify women, to street harassment and sexist online abuse, being key factors.
Today’s findings also expose that over half (52 per cent) of girls feel they are not good enough and almost one in six (15 per cent) 7-10 year old girls feel embarrassed or ashamed of how they look.
Stop judging girls on how they look
“This year’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey demonstrates the shocking impact that focusing on girls’ appearance is having on the youngest girls in society,” says Girlguiding UK Director, Becky Hewitt.
One in three (35 per cent) 7-10 year old girls surveyed agree women are judged more on their appearance than their ability.
“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. We are calling on everyone to show girls that they are valued for who they are - not what they look like,” Hewitt adds.
A third (36 per cent) of 7-10 year old girls also said people make them think that the most important thing about them is how they look.
A growing issue
“I’m shocked but not surprised by the Girls’ Attitudes Survey findings. As a Brownie Leader, I’ve experienced these issues first-hand,” says Liddy Buswell, 18, Girlguiding UK Advocate and Brownie leader.
“I’ve witnessed girls unwilling to speak to groups because of how they look, I’ve heard girls saying they’ve been called names at school and aren’t confident trying new activities as a result.”
The survey also revealed that one in 10 girls (10 per cent) aged 7-10 have had people say ‘mean things about their bodies’.
“This year’s survey is a damning indication that something needs to be done to tackle this growing issue. No girl should have to worry about the way she looks – she should be having fun and enjoying herself”, says Liddy.
Treat everyone the same
Positively, 7-10 year old girls say the most important thing to improve their lives now would be to stop judging girls and women on the way they look.
“I think more girls are judged on their appearance than boys,” says Lyra, 10, a South London Brownie. “I don’t think it’s fair that men get treated differently to women. You have to treat everyone the same.”
The study surveyed 1,627 girls aged between 7 and 21 and asked about a range of issues from health and well-being to relationships and careers.