April 10, 2000
LONDON (AP) - Models, fashion bosses and members of the media will meeting in London in June to discuss the pressure on young women to be slim, the government announced Sunday.
"Our research with young women shows that one of the most important issues for them is how they feel about their bodies, particularly the pressure they feel to be thin, said Minister for Women Tessa Jowell.
"For the first time we will bring together key figures who have a stake in this issue with young women themselves, giving them the opportunity to raise their concerns directly with those that wield influence."
Jowell said many young women felt "second rate because they can't match the thin ideal that they so often see in the media. For many, poor body image can lead to low levels of self-esteem, for some it is far more dangerous, leading to eating disorders and other forms of self-abuse."
"I am concerned that girls may not be fulfilling their potential because of their lack of confidence about themselves. This is an important issue which needs to be tackled. "
Jowell said the summit will discuss the use of a wider range of female images in fashion and consider possible links between imagery and eating disorders.
Delegates will include representatives of the Storm Model Agency and Susie Orbach, an expert on women's eating disorders. Journalists from magazines aimed at young women will also attend.
On July 21, Jowell consulted groups of young women to find out what issues were important to them. Most mentioned the pressure to be thin.
A 1998 survey by Exeter University of 37,500 girls aged 12 to 15 showed that 57.5 percent considered their appearance the biggest concern in their lives. The survey also showed that 59 percent of girls aged 12 and 13 who suffered from low self-esteem were on diet.
Britain's Eating Disorders Association says women with the slimming disease anorexia nervosa outnumber male sufferers by a ratio of 10 to 1.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.