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Young people struggling to cope with intense pressure to look good

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Selfie obsession is a symptom of low self-esteem says charity

An alarming number of young people are contacting ChildLine worried about their body image, NSPCC Scotland has revealed.

The charity revealed the rise in social media and the selfie phenomenon led to over 2000 calls being made to the charity’s Scottish branches on the subject last year.

We know that taking and sending countless selfies in the pursuit of social validation can often be a symptom of low self-esteem

Two thirds of people who talked to counsellors about bullying also said their physical appearance was the main cause of torment.

Susan Dobson, ChildLine service manager, said today’s young people are under a constant burden to look a certain way that other generations haven’t faced.

“Young people face intense pressures, bombarded by society’s unhealthy obsession with appearance and unrealistic images of the ‘norm’ to which we should all apparently aspire,” she said.

“Chasing these airbrushed ideals can result in the destruction of body image and confidence.

“Technology only magnifies these pressures, with social media facilitating 24/7 peer comparison and the selfie phenomenon fuelling society’s obsession with appearance.

“We know that taking and sending countless selfies in the pursuit of social validation can often be a symptom of low self-esteem.”

Not surprisingly, calls spiked during periods of better weather with 65% of counselling sessions on body image taking place during spring and summer.

Callers often struggled to find anything positive about themselves and compared themselves unfavourably to media ideals and their friends.

Seven times as many girls were counselled on the issue compared to boys and image concerns were not just restricted to weight but also height and a general feeling of ‘looking ugly’.

Dobson added many people are left too ashamed and embarrassed to tell anyone about their concerns - rarely leaving their bedrooms, going out or socialising.

“We’re talking about experiences and feelings which can blight not just their childhood but their entire life,” she added.