Slim, enhanced A listers adorn magazines, pop up on billboards and appear on television constantly, and those who have put on weight or are looking a little worse for wear are targeted and mocked in today’s media.
It therefore comes as no surprise that this trend could be driving young children to worry about their looks.
A new government report has found that children as young as five worry about their size and appearance, which according to Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat behind the study, is down to the “proliferation of media imagery portraying a perfected ideal that is unattainable for the majority”.
She, along with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image and the Central YMCA, which penned the report, has now recommended that schools embark on “body image and self-esteem lessons,” in a bid to help children love their bodies.
The research by the group also has some statistics that counsellors have described as “alarming.”
It found that 1.6 million people in the UK have eating disorders, while up to one in five cosmetic surgery patients could suffer from body dysmorphic disorder.
And the research isn’t female centric, also finding that one in three men would sacrifice a year of life to achieve their ideal body.
A counsellor at a young teens anorexia department in North London, which treats patients as young as five, and who wished to remain anonymous told us: “These results are alarming and clearly shows the government is barking up the wrong tree.
“In most cases, and not all, the problem begins at home.
“Our generation is obsessed with celebrity and body image as the results from this report have shown and this, even unknowingly, feeds down to our children.
“It’s all very well having classes for kids but if they come home to a mother watching what she eats in a bid to attain that celebrity figure then all the good work is undone.
“The government must therefore consider tackling the body image problem from the top, offering adults, especially mothers, free counselling and more support with their body issues, before they attempt to fix the children.”
However, it’s not just the eating disorder challenge the government has on its hands, with the report also pinpointing that that obesity and bullying as a result of this, was also a problem.
“There’s a flip side to everything,” the counsellor added.
“Although obesity and anorexia will obviously lead to different body shapes, the root of the problem still stand, and that’s the parents.
“Again, the government should be looking here to educate on the dangers of obesity, which parents can filter down to their children. It’s no use a child being taught that fruit is healthy only to be sent home to a huge fat laden tea, just like being told curves are natural and then seeing a mother who is starving herself and striving to be a size 0.”
And it’s not just counsellors who have their doubts.
Head teacher Sean O’Regan, was quoted in the Telegraph as saying that self-esteem should be “absolutely at the core of what good schools do.” However, he did not think it could be done in a formal classroom setting.
His concerns were echoed by a deputy head in a London school, who told ShinyStyle: “It would be hard to plan lessons such as this.
“A child will not sit and listen for an hour about how they should love their bodies and not discriminate against others who are larger. It takes a lot of work and we don’t have the funds to do this.”