Last week, the following news came to our attention – the Body Confidence Campaign by the government, an economic analysis of anorexia, Gay-Straight Allicance at a north London school and the book ‘The Declining Significance of Homophobia’.
The government has launched a new ‘Body Confidence Campaign’. The campaign aims to reduce the burdens that popular culture places on people’s self-esteem and wellbeing. It advocates that people should feel valued not because of what they look like, but for what they can contribute and achieve. The government, through this campaign, wants to raise awareness about body image and widen the definition of ‘beauty’ to include all ages, shapes, sizes and ethnicities.
Meanwhile, a very timely economic analysis of anorexia, studying over 3,000 young women in the UK and Europe, has been conducted. LSE economist Dr Joan Costa-Font and Professor Mireia Jofre-Bonet from City University say that reducing the mass circulation of pictures of emaciated models and celebrities and restricting advertisements in which they feature could lift some of the social pressures women feel to be thin. The researchers, therefore, welcome government intervention in the form of their body confidence campaign.
Copland community school in Wembley, north-west London, has imported an American tactic for tackling homophobic prejudice: the Gay-Straight Alliance. Such alliances support gay pupils, creating an environment where they can socialise with straight friends and work together against discrimination. The school has backed the student group by teaching about homosexuality from year 10 pupils aged 14 upwards. The culture is beginning to change, the Copland students say.
The Copland students’ view seems to be supported by the research conducted by Mark McCormack, a sociologist at Brunel University. Mark McCormack’s new book, ‘The Declining Significance of Homophobia’, describes an atmosphere of affection between male students both gay and straight, who no longer feel they need to act like sport-mad brutes to be accepted by their peers. Mark spent a year with 16- to 18-year-old students in three schools and is of the view that things are improving dramatically and that public opinion has certainly moved more quickly than public policy.
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