Help support my #RecogniseBodyImage campaign by signing the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/599952



GP and MP for Bosworth, Dr Luke Evans, has today (29 October) launched a new body image campaign, #RecogniseBodyImage. The campaign is calling for the Government to list body image as a priority in the forthcoming Online Harms Bill, which would recognise body image for the first time in UK law, and there is an online petition which Dr Luke is encouraging people to support.  

The launch of Dr Luke’s new campaign comes as new evidence continues to reveal the dangers to physical and mental health as a result of body image concerns. In April, Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee conducted an inquiry into body image, finding that concerns about the way we look ‘start younger, last longer, and affect more people than ever before’, with 61% of adults and 66% of children feeling negative, or very negative, about their body image ‘most of the time’.  

Body image concerns and eating disorders amongst men, meanwhile, are ‘rising rapidly’, the Committee found, whilst there has been a 50% increase in the number of children accessing services for eating disorders since 2016/17.    

In addition, research conducted by online child safety charity The 5Rights Foundation recently demonstrated how children joining social media are quickly exposed to content relating to eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide. Their study created 10 ‘avatars’ which replicated the experiences of young adults online, all registered on Instagram and TikTok with ages between 13 and 17. When researchers searched ‘#skinny’ on Instagram using one of the female avatars, they immediately found accounts promoting diets and eating disorders, as well as pages advertising appetite suppressants.  

On TikTok, searching ‘#thin’ directed researchers to content which showed users how to ‘get dream legs’, or lose weight in a week. When the avatar for 14-year-old ‘Justin’ searched for ‘#bodygoals’ on Instagram, meanwhile, he was shown edited images of extremely muscular, well-built and athletic men. Interacting with this content quickly prompted the platform’s algorithms to find similar content it believed the avatars may like, in order to maximise engagement with the platform - but often with harmful effects for users. 

Last year, Dr Luke proposed the Body Image Bill in Parliament, which would require advertisers and influencers to label images which have been digitally altered. Israel, France, and, most recently, Norway, have all introduced similar legislation to protect young and vulnerable people from unrealistic and potentially dangerous depictions of the way we look. 

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Dr Luke said; “In my role as a GP before becoming an MP, I saw first-hand how social media use can have a real, tangible, and dangerous impact on eating disorders and body confidence issues. The Government’s Online Harms Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, is a real opportunity to recognise body image for the first time in UK law.” 

“I’m asking people to support my campaign by signing the online petition and bringing it to the attention of Government, as well as using #RecogniseBodyImage to spread the word as far as possible on social media. As the Facebook leaks have recently demonstrated, the need to recognise body image could not be more pressing.” 

You can sign the petition online by visiting: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/599952