Diocese of Portsmouth

    Dioceses, schools and organisations come together to tackle low self esteem in young people

    Beyond our diocese
    26 Feb. 2018
    Lewis Jones

    Young people’s happiness is at its lowest since 2010. Many young people are sourcing their identities from social media and advertising, and in the process losing their self-esteem.

    The Diocese of Gloucester put on a day conference inviting educators and organisations from all over the country to come together and discuss action on changing this message and improving the lives of our young people.

    The Bishop of Gloucester launched a campaign back in 2016 called #liedentity in the hope of challenging our obsession with body image.

    Liedentity is Bishop Rachel' body image campaign, which came out of the worrying stats from the Children's Society in 2016 linking increasing levels of childhood self harm and bullying, to messages of self-worth coming out of various media. The ultimate goal is to change this message; to affect syllabuses nationwide, to invest in education around identity and value, and teach appropriate/safe use of social media.

    Bishop Rachel said, “We are bombarded with messages of what the ‘perfect body image’ is, and for many this undermines true identity. We know that for these young people having negative thoughts about how they look can impact on their entire life, causing deep unhappiness and contributing to poor mental health.

    “Over the last couple of years I have been speaking publically about this issue and promoting the message that who you are, is more than how you look. I launched a social media campaign #liedentity with pupils from All Saints Academy in Cheltenham, challenging negative body image and encouraging young people to look within to discover true value and beauty. This has given me a great opportunity to speak with young people about my own identity in Christ and my desire for every person to discover their worth and potential as a unique individual created in the image of God.”

    60% of girls opt-out of everyday activities because of how they think they look*

    The Diocese of Gloucester asked teenagers from across the region how image-first social media made them feel, these were the responses:

    Around half of adolescent boys are unhappy with their bodies*

    At the beginning of this campaign Bishop Rachel spoke to children saying; "We're all made in God's image, and I want every young person to become what God made them to be [...] we need to start complimenting people not on what they look like but on the qualities they have"

    To find out more about this campaign:


    *stats via UWE/Dove research
    quotes and campaign information from Diocese of Gloucester, Bishop Rachel (Rt Revd Rachel Treweek) @BishGloucester

    What can you do?

    “Doing the little things can make a big difference.” -Yogi Berra Quote 

    Whether you work with large groups of young people, individuals or don't work with young people at all you can play your part, we are all made in God's image.

    • Think about how you speak to young people (be intentional):
           - Is their appearance the first thing you comment on (I like your dress, your hair looks nice...)?
           - Be interested in them (I like you bag, what made you choose that)?
    • What does your social media profile say about you? are you image conscious or will you post anything?
    • Compliment young people when you see them, so often now people assume you know how they feel and rarely let you know.
    • Girls vs. Boys (girls often grow up hearing they are a princess, boys grow up hearing they are big and strong), what we say affects how people see themselves, compliment them on their skills/abilities.

    FOR GROUPS why not cover sessions on appearance, self esteem, self worth? The bible is full of references relating to this topic.

    View the presentations and notes from the conference here: gloucester.anglican.org/liedentity/
    If you have a safeguarding concern about an young person, adult or child, please contact your parish safeguarding officer or if unavailable the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser: Ian Berry, 07544 566 850, ian.berry@portsmouth.anglican.org