Thirteen of our students aged between 12 and 18 opened up to the Bishop of Gloucester this morning, about how they value themselves and how important physical appearance is to them.
Bishop Rachel visited to discuss with the pupils the pressures they face to look a certain way and to ask ‘what does it mean to be perfect?’ and ‘what does it mean to be happy?’
Of the seven girls present not one was happy with their physical appearance, whilst five of the six boys were more confident about how they looked.
The discussions lasted for nearly two hours and some of the comments from the pupils were:
“I wish I was prettier and maybe a bit thinner and then I would feel more confident. The boys can be really mean and call you fat, but then I think that’s because they have their own insecurities.”
“Everyone has their own style, but we do face peer pressure to look a certain way and so you tend to go with what other people are doing to please other people.”
“You see pictures and adverts where celebrities always look perfect and you want to change how you look on the outside to feel better on the inside.”
“It’s like people feel they always need to be fixed and that being yourself is never going to be good enough. It is what is inside that counts, but the reality is that physical appearance is important and I don’t see how these pressures are going to disappear.”
Bishop Rachel listened to how they felt and spoke to them about how we can change the messages that are promoted by the media and through advertising. She said. “As a follower of Jesus Christ, I want young people to discover who they are and who they have been created to be, by God, and to know that they are loved and valued.
“I talked with the teenagers about giving people compliments that are not based on appearance. It was really interesting to see how embarrassed people were when they were told something nice about themselves, because they are not used to it. It’s important to think about how we talk to each other and to ensure that what we say gives confidence to others.”