Sunday 5 February 2017

Charity Spotlight - The Children's Society

Created over a century ago, The Children's Society, campaigns for a country where children can be free from poverty. Running projects in local communities, they help children and young people that are vulnerable, living in poverty, suffering abuse or neglect and simply have nowhere else to turn.

The Children's Society logo

As part of Children's Mental Health Week, The Children's Society are sharing their findings of their Good Childhood Report from last year.

The report caused a huge stir in 2016 when its findings were published and its easy to see why. The Children's Society discovered that as boy's happiness remains the same, girls happiness is getting worse. More than a quarter of a million girls aged 10-15 across the country are unhappy with their lives overall; one in seven of all girls in that age group.

Even more concerning are their feelings, worries and concerns about their appearance, with a third of 10-15 year old girls unhappy with their looks.

Stats show that 1 in 3 girls are unhappy with their appearance

Many found this news shocking. I, however, was not one of those people.

I have six nieces and have been a Snowy Owl for seventeen years. I have seen this change happening in front of my very eyes.

I have been witness to young girls, children, going from carefree to watching what they eat. Even pushing away food when they are still hungry as they worry about their weight. 

I've seen girls go from fresh faced to full on glamour queens within a week, wearing more and more make up by the day.

But why? What has changed?

It's easy to point the finger in the direction of the internet but wanting to look good and emulate the latest singer or pretty actress is nothing new.

When I was younger it was all in print and on the TV. I remember watching an episode of Baywatch at my Nan's house and my jaw dropping as Pamela Anderson and Yasmin Bleeth ran across the sand. I wanted to be them. I wanted to look like them. I wanted their figures, their faces and their amazing, blowing in the wind hair. So, what's different?

Well, back in the early 90's make up and hair tips came via magazines and the glamourous assistant on the No7 counter. You tried it once and if it went wrong that was the end of it until next week's magazine. There was fun to be had. There wasn't step by step guides that you could watch. Now there is and with social media and the internet there is a constant stream of images and videos.

Look like this. Try this to look like this.

The most popular people on networks like Instagram are stunningly beautiful or made up to look so. Their success is based on their followers, likes and 'wow, you're stunning' comments.

With their success based upon their appearance, its no wonder girls are becoming more and more concerned about how look.

Are they being led to believe that success is based on appearance? Could it be that they already deem themselves failures for not looking like a 20 something, over made up, reality star. Quite possibly.

As a 30 something woman I too scroll through the posts of such stars and sigh that I don't have their small waists or glamourous lives.

But social media isn't the only factor. There's also peer pressure and the usual angst that comes when young girls grow and develop.

That's why we need to support our girls to develop a positive image of themselves. Stop the scrolling and sighing and be a positive influence.

Show girls that happiness and success doesn't come down to how many likes you get on an overly made up picture. 

I'm never going to be a Pamela or Yasmin but that doesn't mean I'm a failure.

Let's stop, and help our girls stop, looking in the mirror and sighing. Let's love ourselves and love life. Let's support The Children's Society in supporting our girls and ask the government to provide mental health support in all schools.

Want to get involved and support The Children's Society? Sign up as a campaigner here. The more people that support them, the louder the voice! That's why February's Charity Spotlight is shining on The Children's Society.

Mummy Snowy Owl

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