‘I keep comparing myself to pictures of people in magazines and people on TV and I wish I looked like them’
Nearly 150 counselling sessions about body image issues have been delivered to children in Wales over the last two years, a charity has revealed.
Girls are eight more times more likely to receive help for worries about their appearance compared to boys.
Research from NSPCC Cymru showed Welsh children as young as 11 have received counselling for worries including weight, acne, and concerns about their appearance as well suffering from bullying.
One 12-year-old girl who has not been named said: “I’m feeling really sad and I don’t like myself.
“I keep comparing myself to pictures of people in magazines and people on TV and I wish I looked like them. I don’t want to talk to people about this because I don’t want to worry them.”
Another teenage girl added: “I feel so embarrassed about the way I look. I hate my body – when I’m with my friends I always feel like the fat one.
“I can’t dress like my friends because it makes me feel fat and ugly. I’m too embarrassed to tell anybody how I’m feeling and it’s making me really lonely.”
The charity blames factors including social media, TV and magazines.
It said it had received calls from youngsters suffering from depression and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
While 72 counselling sessions were delivered by Childline to children in Wales in 2015-16, the figure has increased to a total of 77 in 2016-17, with three individuals aged under 11.
The most common age group was teenagers aged between 16 to 18, with 27 individuals given help for issues surrounding their body.
Some 2,609 counselling sessions were given to children across the UK in 2016-17, with 980 of these being received by 12 to 15 year-old girls.
Responding to the news, Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen warned the issue could continue for some children without seeking help.
She said: “It’s very sad and extremely worrying that girls in particular are so unhappy with the way they look. Without the right support and a general change in attitude across society there is a real danger these issues could intensify and continue into adulthood.
“It’s important all young people realise that everyone is different and everyone has the right to and be comfortable in their own skin. Childline will continue to provide vital support for any girl or boy who is struggling with a body image problem.”
Childline receives around a million contacts a year from young people in need of support but is only able to respond to three in every four who get in touch.