Why We Need Role Models Not Models?

Girls are spending more time on Social Media with this we are seeing an increase in low self esteem

According to a report carried out by Children’s Society young girls in Britain are becoming more miserable. The charity’s report says 14% of 10 to 15 year old girls are unhappy with their life and a further 34% are unhappy with their appearance. Researchers from the Children’s Society were told of girls feelings “worthless” and “ugly”. The report also links Social Media to poor health in girls as they are spending more time than ever online. After the research was conducted, BBC Radio 5 Live spoke to three young girls to see how they felt.

Megan, 12, said: “The only time that I’m not happy is if people are judging me or being mean and things like that. With people at school, they post things [on social media] and they try and make everyone think that they are perfect.

Natalia, 15, said: “Everywhere you look it’s like, celebrities: thin, blonde or — perfect teeth, perfect hair, perfect eyes, perfect eyebrows. And it’s just crazy and I just feel like I should look like that — even though I know it’s all like fake, or a lot of it is anyway.

Caitlyn, 12, said: “I am happy most of the time, but then when it comes to my friends going: ‘Ah I look really beautiful in this outfit’ and everything, I just feel like, no, I can’t do that — I can’t pull it off.

When I’m obviously looking through my Facebook and looking at some of the posts, all you can see is pictures of celebrities and my friends looking beautiful in selfies and everything, and then there’s just me, like, I can’t get away from any of it.”

Young girls are increasingly becoming susceptible to the online culture of being thin and looking pretty. Celebrities on networks such as Instagram are portraying an unrealistic version of themselves, this pressures young girls into following their way of life. So why isn’t there more role models that girls are looking up to? We have role models out there such as Laura Trott, J.K Rowling and Karren Brady who we should aspire to be. They have achieved things in their life such as; Laura Trott (OBE) winning 4 Olympic Gold , J.K Rowling (OBE) has written one of the most popular book franchise ever and Karren Brady (MBE) has been managing director at Birmingham City and is the current vice-chairman of West Ham United. One thing I have noticed is the role models young girls are calling their idols have millions of followers on social media. These celebrities need to be more mindful of the impression they give online especially as young girls look up to them.

Role Model- Laura Trott (OBE) celebrating her win at the Rio Olympics

As girls get older, they are likely than boys to experience emotional problems such as anxiety and depression. As girls are spending more time on social media, this has also been linked to a higher risk of mental ill health.

“Girls feel pressured by boys to look a particular way and that leads girls into depression or low self-esteem and makes girls feel ugly or worthless.” Teenage Girl

Another study conducted by childcare professionals also showed under 10s are worried about their appearance with girls as young as 3 being affected. The alarming thought about this is children are more at risk later on in life with depression and mental health problems according to Jacqueline Harding of Middlesex University. She also suggested that images in the media and adults/celebrities talking about diets could lead to negative body images in children.

My own opinion on teenage mental health is the online environment has a lot to answer for when it comes to teenage health. There are pros and cons as to why online is a good environment. There has been an increase in cyberbullying online as this is becoming the way young people are being targeted online. 7 in 10 people aged between 13–22 have been the victim of cyberbullying. Young girls are pressured to look a certain way with celebrities being the main reasoning for this. Teenage girls do use the internet as a positive as they can meet and build friendships online, they can share their own experiences with people and stay connected with them.

What Else Can Be Done to Raise Well-being?

  1. Build positive relationships.
  2. Recognise what you are good at.
  3. Be Kind to yourself.
  4. Start saying ‘no’.
  5. Learn to be assertive.

Some links to follow for further assistance on mental health and well-being:

Children’s Society

NHS- Raising Self Esteem

The Report

Written by Nicole Dawson