A FYLDE teenager is on a mission to make girls more positive about their body image.
Laura Christou (pictured) was so alarmed when she found herself trying to diet to stay slim at the age of just 17, she decided to some research on the subject.
The Year 13 student at Lytham and St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College embarked on six months of work for a college project about young girls’ self-image – and her findings shocked her.
She discovered three quarters of girls aged between 11 and 18 she surveyed had personal features, or parts of their bodies, they did not like.
Some who had “weight issues” were amazed to find their weight was actually perfect for their health and age.
Laura’s research included deconstructing images in more than 30 beauty magazines and music videos, as well as carrying out surveys at the school, and asking girls about their sizes, curves, beauty regimes and stereotypes.
The 18-year-old arranged a photoshoot and produced a video – both of which she hopes will help change her fellow pupils’ attitudes about their bodies.
Laura, a media studies and performing arts student, said: “I had been doing a diet and it just struck me – I’m quite petite and even I was doing this.
“So I decided to start looking into it for my work.
“After going through a lot of magazines, I asked 200 girls aged 11 to 18 to fill in an anonymous survey about body image, and also 100 boys in the same age group.
“There was a section for the girls to fill in height and weight, and I was surprised by how many just didn’t fill in the weight section – showing they obviously had issues.
“The boys’ results were heart-warming, they all said how beautiful their girlfriends were, that they were just perfect the way they were. But the girls’ results were quite shocking.
“Three quarters of them had features they didn’t like – there were things I expected, such as legs and tummies, but some had found fault with things like their nose, or everything.
“I was shocked by one 13-year-old who filled in the form and everything was so negative.
“She also put herself down, and there wasn’t much she liked about herself.
“The impact of magazines, music videos and TV shows etc is clearly massive.
“Some of the girls who thought they were fat, or overweight, found out their weight was in fact perfect for their height and age. It’s very frightening.
“Some of these girls in Year 7 are just out of primary school, and worrying about their weight and appearance so much.
“I thought it would be good to try to change things – to get girls to not put body image at the forefront of everything, to realise there are other things to focus on.
“I put together a photoshoot and a video full of images of girls trying to break out from this mindset, encouraging them to throw off the media images and just be themselves.”
Laura will be showing the video and giving talks about her work in assemblies to try to get the message across.
Laura, who hopes to study at Salford University, added: “The feedback my work has received has been positive. I feel being able to use the skills I have acquired in my studies has been very rewarding at this stage in my career.
“And the message seems to have hit home with so many young students.”