The Mental Health Foundation (MHF), Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners and British Beauty Council have released new guidance to help people, especially young people make informed decisions about making changes to their bodies.
The advice from all three organisations has been tailored to give people support during young adulthood, parenting and mature adulthood. They have separated into these three stages as they are understood as having their own unique concerns about body image.
The stage specific guides are:
“Young adults - a selection of strategies and personal stories about how to maintain a healthy body image despite social and commercial pressures, and making informed decisions about cosmetic treatments.
Feeling my mind: Tips for maintaining a healthy body image despite social and commercial pressures
Facing my mirror: Tyra’s personal story
Mirror my mind: Making informed choices about cosmetic treatments”
- “Parents - raising awareness of how parenting and other influences can impact children and young people’s developing body image and sharing tips for counterbalancing unhelpful social and commercial pressures.
Parenting for a healthy body image”
- “Mature Adults - highlights the most common influences on body image in adulthood, sharing tips for maintaining a healthy body image, and addressing safety and informed choice if someone is seeking cosmetic treatments.
Mind over mirror: Tips for adults to have a healthy body image and make informed choices about cosmetic treatments.”
The MHF have stated that the Covid-19 lockdown has made body insecurities and concerns “more intense”. They also have concerns that the marketing of non-surgical cosmetic treatments on social media are increasing the number of young people accessing them. These treatments include dermal fillers and botox injections. These procedures are part of an unregulated market, unlike cosmetic surgery and therefore those who are administering and selling them have a “widely varying” level of qualification and training.
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MHF have found in previous research that over 50% of 18-34-year-olds have at some point considered a cosmetic procedure in the last 12 months
In a 2021 body image survey as a part of MHF’s ‘Our Personal Experience Network’, 91% of 160 members of the network said that they believed cosmetic providers should be required to have a registered licence and also be insured; currently this is not a requirement for non-surgical practices. A further 43.3% of people surveyed felt “uninformed about the risks or side-effects of cosmetic treatments.”
The MHF have released tips for body image concerns that includes a Comic Strip that has been specifically designed for younger people. Katrina Jenkins, Targeted Programmes Manager at the MHF spoke on concerns about social media that the tips directly address:
“Body image is so closely linked to our mental health. Social media, peers and family can all impact how we feel about ourselves, and the image we have of our own bodies. Making informed choices is central to our wellbeing, and this is also true for decisions about our bodies, which are unique to us and our individual needs. Asking the right questions and being informed means we can be protected against predatory marketing and make decisions that support our safety and mental health in the long run.”
An important aspect of this new guidance is ensuring that people who seek cosmetic procedures, be they surgical or not, are provided with accurate information that means everyone can make an informed decision based on how cosmetic intervention can interact with mental health.
Professor David Sines CBE, Chair of Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) said, “The JCCP places public safety and informed consent at the heart of its consumer engagement campaigns. It is committed to enhancing and strengthening public protection but acknowledges that at the present time what has been lacking are clear, transparent and easily understood guides to assist younger people, parents and adults to make informed, risk-assessed choices about the aesthetics treatments that best meet their personal needs and expectations.”
Finally, British Beauty Council Chief Operating Officer, Helena Grzesk has said, “We know that body image can affect self-esteem and mental health at all ages; raising awareness and supporting young people and parents to make informed decisions is crucial.”
This work by the MHF, JCCP and the British Beauty Council is extremely important, especially as social media has become so prevalent in young people’s lives. Not only do young people spend time looking at static images on Instagram that are edited, social media platforms like TikTok also allow people to upload edited videos of already cosmetically altered bodies.
Guidance and advice on how to maintain a healthy relationship with our bodies outside of these pressures is absolutely necessary if people are able to make informed decisions about cosmetic procedures and their implications