Girls As Young As Seven Feel Pressure To Look ‘Perfect’

girls under pressure

by Katie Rosseinsky |
Published on

A troubling new study from Girlguiding UK has revealed that girls as young as seven feel pressure to look ‘pretty’.

The 2016 Girls’ Attitudes Survey of 1,600 girls and women aged between seven and 21 revealed that just 61 percent felt happy about their bodies – a figure which is down from 73 percent in 2011. Even more heart-breaking is the fact that 69 percent of the girls surveyed described themselves as ‘not good enough,’ while 15 percent of seven-to-10 years olds revealed they felt embarrassed and ashamed of how they look, with the general consensus being that women are judged more on their appearance than on their abilities.

36 percent of seven-to-10 year-olds believed their looks were the most important thing about them, while 23 percent described feeling the need to be perfect.

Things got markedly worse as the age of those surveyed increased, with 80 percent of 11-to-21 year olds feeling that their looks are of primary importance, and 47 percent believing their looks to hold them back most of the time.

‘I think more girls are judged on their appearance than boys,’ said Lyra, a 10-year-old participant. ‘I don’t think it’s fair that men get treated differently to women.’

Francesca, aged nine, told researchers, ‘I rode my bike past some teenagers and they said I looked ugly.’

The impact of this prevailing lack of confidence was also shown to have a knock-on effect on girls’ day-to-day lives, both in and out of the classroom: Girlguiding’s research revealed that these negative thoughts were preventing girls from speaking up in lessons, wearing certain styles of clothing and even socialising with their friends.

Brownie leader Liddy Buswell confirmed this, revealing ‘I’ve experienced these issues first-hand. 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.’

Gender stereotyping, sexist media coverage, online abuse and street harassment were also pin-pointed as points of concern

According to the authors of the survey, girls face ‘intense and unobtainable appearance pressures to be perfect’ from a disturbingly young age, with Girlguiding director Becky Hewitt describing the impact of this as ‘shocking.’

‘We are calling on everyone to show girls that they are valued for who they are – not what they look like,’ she added.

The statistics paint a bleak picture, but will sadly come as little surprise to many young women: it’s certainly time to start finding a viable solution to this self-confidence crisis.

READ MORE: Can We Stop Talking About 'Having It All?'

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