Women’s sporting events are ignored by free TV

22 06 2010

In the House of Commons yesterday, Co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence Jo Swinson MP has called on the Government to include women’s sporting events on the Free-to-Air list.

Research by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation found that 61% of girls agree that watching successful sports stars inspires them to be active, yet while the World Cup brings male sporting icons to our screens, for girls it offers only WAGs as rolemodels.

The Campaign for Body Confidence is concerned that young girls are increasingly subject to body image pressure and sexualisation, and lack sporting role models who can positively reinforce messages of body confidence and the benefits of physical activity for overall health and wellbeing.

Commenting, Jo Swinson said:

“The World Cup is brilliant for promoting the benefits of sport for people’s health, but unfortunately women’s sport hardly gets a look in when it comes to air time on TV.

“Increasingly, young girls are feeling under pressure to be sexy. They need positive role models to demonstrate that there is more to life than being a WAG.

“Leading sportswomen show that you can be healthy, happy and body confident – and what’s more, taking part in sports is much more fun than crash diets and cosmetic surgery.”

Sue Tibballs, CEO of Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation said:

“We know that the public really get behind our sportswomen when they are winning titles and championships all over the world, and evidence shows that more media coverage could inspire more young girls to get involved and take part.”

WSFF has also found that found that on an average day outside the World Cup season, women’s sport accounts for just 4% of the sports coverage on Sky.

The text of Jo Swinson’s question to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport appears below:

Jo Swinson: Research by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation shows that 61% of girls agree that watching successful sports stars inspires them to be active, but while male sportsmen are all over our screens, women’s sport receives far less media coverage. Will the government include some women’s only sport on the Free-to-Air List, to help promote female sporting rolemodels for the nation’s girls?

Hugh Robertson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport: The answer is in two parts. We have called for independent economic analysis on the listed events review. That is due in the Department this week. We will look at that carefully before coming to any formal decision. I absolutely agree with what the hon. Lady says about the positive promotion of female role models through sport. London 2012 is a fantastic opportunity for that, and I very much welcome the decisions made about women’s boxing and the equalisation of events in cycling. That, I believe, is the way to move forward.


Debenhams launches new un-airbrushed ad campaign

17 06 2010

The Campaign for Body Confidence has praised Debenhams for using un-airbrushed photography in it’s windows to launch new swimwear lines for the summer.

The department store has said it believes that over-use of digital photography techniques to create ideal body shapes and flawless skin may be a major factor in making women feel insecure about their natural looks and size.

Signs in the window will read: “We’re not messing with real beauty; this image is un-airbrushed.”

It will also show customers an example of just how much the image could have been altered; including slimming of the model’s upper arms and waist and increasing the size of her bust.

Commenting, Co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence Jo Swinson said:

“It’s great news that Debenhams will be using images of real women which have not been digitally manipulated to advertise their new swimwear range. More and more people are realising that airbrushing and other trickery are not necessary in order for women to look beautiful.

“I am sure that what this will demonstrate is that swimwear modelled by real women who have not been retouched can sell just as well as products advertised with extensive airbrushing, which has become the norm. Women can feel good about themselves knowing that beauty is not about achieving the unachievable.”

Caryn Franklin, fashion commentator and broadcaster, said:

“Retailers do have the power to take a stance on digital manipulation, and fashion imagery that is honest is crucial for all women to see. I’m glad to see Debenhams has taken the lead and hope other retailers will follow suit.”

Mark Woods, Director of Creative and Visual for Debenhams, said:

“As a responsible retailer we want to help customers make the most of their beauty without bombarding them with unattainable body images.

“Our campaign is all about making women feel good about themselves – not eroding their self belief and esteem by using false comparisons.

“As a rule we only airbrush minor things like pigmentation or stray hair and rely on the natural beauty of models to make our product look great.

“We are proud to bring the issue of re-touching into the main stream when the likes of Britney Spears and Madonna are using un-airbrushed but over-lit images as a shock tactic.”

All Walks Beyond the Catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week

14 06 2010
All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, the award winning fashion initiative co-founded by Caryn Franklin, Debra Bourne and Erin O’Connor, promoting designer fashion on a wider range of body shapes, ages and skin tones met with a nationwide consortium of UK educationalists to brainstorm how future generations of fashion designers and image makers can approach inclusivity and individuality within the curriculum.

“The purpose behind All Walks Beyond the Catwalk is to acknowledge the positive power that the fashion industry can have, when communicating to women about their bodies,”  states Founder Caryn Franklin.

This first All Walks Future Forum launched at Graduate Fashion Week. Professor Wendy Dagworthy Head of School of Fashion and Textiles, Royal College of Art, agrees that educationalists can make an important contribution “Designers can lead the way in challenging cultural definitions of what is beautiful. College or university can be the first opportunity for a student to process their ideas and challenge the status quo.”

Currently, all student fashion designers work with size 8/10 mannequins, which is the standard professional practice for practical reasons. This might contribute to a limited understanding of the body and the way it is shaped. Founder Erin O’Connor comments “As a model of many years standing; the time is now, for up and coming designers to have an opportunity, integral to their development, to work with beautiful, diverse women.”

Following talks – the creation of a new Centre of Excellence for Design and Diversity where interest and focused design studies can take place is planned. London Proportion, leading tailor and mannequin manufacturer, has donated the first set of tailor dummies, sizes 10 to 16 towards this purpose in support of the college who take this up. Currently most colleges do not have a range of shapes to work on. “We believe that giving the next generation of designers access to a range of body sizes we will encourage more debate and understanding” comments Founder Debra Bourne, and continues “Unlike bigger names designers, young designers do not have the financial luxury to produce both a catwalk collection and a selling collection. Their catwalk collection must sell off the shop floor. Working on realistic body shapes makes good commercial sense too.”

All Walks Beyond the Catwalk launched during London Fashion Week last September as a ground breaking initiative involving 8 cutting edge British designers who were invited to show ready to wear garments on a range of models sizes 10-16. All Walks is part of the steering committee for the Campaign for Body Confidence.

See the photos from the event on Facebook

Go to the All Walks Beyond the Catwalk website

Huge increase in complaints to ASA

14 06 2010

The Advertising Standards Authority has reported a huge increase in complaints about health and beauty adverts over the past year.

The Guardian reports:

“A media focus on airbrushing in health and beauty ads, a cause championed by the Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson who pushed for the banning of an Olay ad featuring Twiggy, saw a 52% increase in complaints about campaigns in the sector.”

We hope this is the start of a new movement to demand honesty in advertising of health and beauty products.

Most recently, we complained about a L’Oreal foundation advert – more news on that soon.

Lynne Featherstone appointed Equalities Minister

14 06 2010

We are delighted that co-founder of the Real Women campaign Lynne Featherstone MP is now the new Under Secretary of State for Equalities in the Home Office. We hope that we will now see some of our Real Women policies being put into practice.

Lynne commented:

“This is a huge opportunity to change things for the better. I will be able to do – not just to say. For two years as Shadow Equalities spokesperson – through the Equality Bill, through countless speeches to groups, through our conference policy papers on Women and Youth – it has always been about what Lib Dems would do about equality if we were in government. The chance to deliver Liberal Democrat equality policy is phenomenal.”

Read Lynne’s profile on the Home Office website.

Effects of media images on the body image

25 03 2010

On January 11th, Jo Swinson led the Adjournment debate in Parliament on the effects of media images on the body image of women and girls. You can watch the debate on Jo’s YouTube channel here.

Campaign For Body Confidence: Jo Swinson MP interview

9 03 2010

To coincide with International Women’s Day, the Liberal Democrats today announced their Campaign For Body Confidence. To celebrate, they are holding a panel debate in Parliament on the measures used to tackle increasing pressure to conform to idealised bodily forms.

Debate chair Jo Swinson MP gave her thoughts:

1. Why is it important that we tackle body image pressure on women and girls?
Body image pressure is a serious and growing problem in our society, which can lead to low-self esteem and even serious eating disorders. It affects the mental and physical health and well-being of women, girls, men and boys.

2. Where is this pressure coming from?
We believe the pressure is coming from many different directions. Cultural norms in our society tell us that people have to look a certain way – thin, perfect skin, shiny hair, and so on – and many people have internalised those norms and are putting pressure on themselves to achieve unrealistic ideals of beauty.

3. What are some of the things that we can do about it?
The Liberal Democrats’ Real Women campaign has proposed a number of measures which could be taken to tackle body image pressure. We have suggested that advertisements should be more honest, and those which contain airbrushed images of people should carry a label telling people the extent to which the image has been altered. This proposal was recently backed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

4. What do you hope today’s panel discussion will achieve?

Today’s panel discussion will be attended by politicians, media figures, modelling agencies, mental health experts and ordinary people, who will be asked to pledge to campaign to tackle this problem. We will put together a steering group of experts to take forward the Campaign for Body Confidence, who will meet on a regular basis to drive the campaign forward. We have already dramatically increased the number of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority over airbrushing in adverts and will continue to do until the rules are changed.