Last week the Health Select Committee, of which Dr Luke Evans MP is a member, published its report following an inquiry into the impact of body image on mental and physical health.
This topic was put forward to the committee by Dr Luke, and the resulting report follows a three month inquiry in which the Committee heard evidence from experts and lived experience witnesses.
Dr Luke’s campaign has gained the support of several celebrities who have experienced poor relationships with body image. Dr Alex George who was on Love Island in 2018 and who is now Youth Mental Health Ambassador within the Department for Education, James McVey from The Vamps and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Charlie King from TOWIE and social media influencer Alex Light are among those who have supported the local MP’s campaign for a label to be placed on images where body proportions digitally manipulated.
The Committee have urged the Health, Digital and Education Departments to come together and tackle this growing issue. The report also calls on the Health Department to commission research which furthers understanding of the causal pathways that are leading to a rise in body image dissatisfaction.
Throughout their inquiry the Committee has heard from a number of lived experience witnesses who sought non-surgical procedures such as lip fillers and Botox. The Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners told the Committee that of those seeking such procedures, 70% did not have a consultation longer than 20 minutes and almost 4 in 5 patients were not asked about body image.
Struggles with body image are not confined to image distortion or cosmetic procedures, the Committee also heard evidence regarding the growing use of anabolic steroids and the report asks for a national review into this.
Bosworth’s MP, Dr Luke, has been campaigning for a label to be placed on images where a person’s body proportions have been digitally manipulated since his election in 2019. The GP turned MP, saw first-hand the detrimental impact that viewing warped body shapes can have on a person’s mental health, leading to poor relations with body image, body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders.
The Body Image Pledge, a voluntary commitment that brands, companies and charities can take to say they will not digitally alter body shapes has been signed by companies such as Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, Boots, Aldi, Dove and Boohoo Group.
Following such commitment, and an open letter urging brands to sign the Pledge which was signed by 86 MPs from seven different political parties, Dr Luke raised his campaign with Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said, “I think that the [label] suggestion that [Dr Luke Evans] has brought forward is extremely useful and I will make sure that we follow it up as part of our mental health plan.”
In July the Government published its Women’s Health Strategy, which referred to future policy on digitally altered images including mandatory labels when body proportions have been digitally manipulated. The Committee’s report echoed the importance of being honest with how images have been edited and called on the Government to legislate for a label to be placed on such images.
Dr Luke Evans said “I am pleased that the Health Committee’s report conveys the need for further research into body image. I hope that these 26 recommendations will be taken on by the Government as it will turbo charge the fight in dealing with an issue that effects so many people so deeply.
“In evidence sessions Committee members have heard from a broad range of people who have poor relationships with their body image and we launched a public consultation to ensure that the report accurately reflects what the Government can do to foster healthier representations of body image.”
The 26 recommendations made by the Committee have been passed to the Government for formal consideration and response. This will be due this side of Christmas. The proposals which were accepted in the Women’s Health Strategy around labelling are currently being worked through by the Department of Health and Social Care.