Reality TV is responsible for making half of British young people feel bad about their bodies, a survey for BBC 5 Live has found.
The ComRes poll of 2,000 British adults found 55% of 18 to 34-year-olds feel that reality TV shows, such as Love Island and The Only Way is Essex, and social media have a negative effect on how they see their bodies.
Over a third (35%) of Millennials said they were more likely to consider cosmetic surgery as a result of what they see on TV, 15% higher than the national average.
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Bullying Statistics, which offers facts and advice to help counter so-called ‘body shaming’, says “technology has made a focus on appearance stronger than ever”.
But the current obsession with thin is in fact a fairly new phenomenon. In centuries past being overweight was seen as a sign of good health because it meant the person had money to buy food and was eating well.
“This was a status symbol” says Bullying Statistics. “Now, food is an easier commodity to come by in developed nations. Having the money to own exercise equipment or have a gym membership is the new status symbol. Thin is a symbol of wealth and fitness.”
While obesity is putting an ever-growing strain on the health service, the ComRes survey suggests a quarter of British adults have either had surgery, or know someone who has had plastic surgery or a cosmetic procedure.
ITV has been forced to defend advertising for Love Island, which pulled in a record audience for its Monday night finale, after criticism from the head of NHS England about seeing trailers for cosmetic breast surgery.
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