The Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Revd Rachel Treweek, attended two events during London Fashion Week as part of her liedentity campaign to change the message about the ‘perfect body image’.
She was at the launch of PEEL, a new resource which empowers young people to connect with their peers’ inner beauty through photography and poetry, which the Diocese of Gloucester is sponsoring. (See www.projectpeel.org)
Bishop Rachel said, “Last week I spent time at two events taking place during London Fashion Week, which raised issues about body image anxiety in young people, the pressures they face to look a certain way through social media and how we can future-proof our children online. It’s about enabling children and young people to make good choices for their flourishing and develop healthy human relationship both online and face-to-face.
“As part of my liedentity campaign I have been visiting schools and youth groups, talking to young people about how happy they are with how they look; where they get their values from and the impact that social media has on their self-esteem. My last visit was to Stroud High School, where I met some exceptional young women and discovered more about how social media has impacted their lives.”
Listen to Bishop Rachel speak to Anna King on Radio Gloucestershire about this issue from 1.38.00 http://bbc.in/2xQKKPk
Bishop Rachel said. “Once again I was saddened and shocked to hear what they had to say and how they believe that they were not pretty enough, or good enough, because what they see online makes them feel inadequate. As a Christian I believe that love and relationship is at the heart of who God is, and I’m trying to work with young people to change the message to say that who you are starts on the inside, and that everyone is unique, created in the image of God.
During the visit the girls talked about ‘the pressure on them to look a certain way’ and how ‘social media has set the agenda for appearance’. One girl said, “Social media has prevented us being able to express our love for people person- to-person, face-to-face.”
They also spoke about how we can change those messages and how young people can be role models for their peers. Social media is a fundamental part of our culture but we all have the power to choose how we value others and live in relationship with one another.
Stroud High School Head Teacher Mark McShane said, “It was a pleasure to host Bishop Rachel. It is no wonder in the technological world we live in and with the dominance of different forms of social media, that the perception of what we look like and concepts of beauty and normality are constantly being warped by online images and an obsession with our virtual lives. We want the girls at Stroud High School to make a difference in the communities they will live in and judge themselves by the way they treat people and the characteristics at the heart of the personality.”
In February, Bishop Rachel is hosting a national conference to bring together those who work with young people, to share solutions, ideas and resources for tackling issues around body image anxiety.
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