Social media pressure is making some young people resort to cosmetic procedures such as botox and dermal fillers, says a study by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which adds that government must protect people from an unregulated industry.
The report also condemns makeover apps and online plastic surgery games aimed at children as young as nine, reports the BBC, adding that the report’s authors fear such apps are contributing to growing anxieties around body image.
The report identifies several factors that are encouraging young people in particular to focus on body image. These include increasing levels of anxiety around appearance; the rise of social media where photos can receive positive or negative ratings and the popularity of celebrity culture, complete with airbrushed images and apparently perfect lifestyles.
And, while much of the cosmetic procedures industry is unregulated so reliable data on its size is hard to come by, one market research company estimated the UK market could be worth as much as £3.6bn in 2015.
Professor Jeanette Edwards, from the University of Manchester, who chaired the council’s inquiry into ethical issues surrounding cosmetic procedures, said some of the evidence around games aimed at younger children had surprised the panel.
“We’ve been shocked by some of the evidence we’ve seen, including make-over apps and cosmetic surgery ‘games’ that target girls as young as nine. There is a daily bombardment from advertising and through social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat that relentlessly promote unrealistic and often discriminatory messages on how people, especially girls and women, ‘should’ look.”
The report describes how apps with names such as ‘Plastic Surgery Princess;, ‘Little Skin Doctor’ and ‘Pimp My Face’ could be contributing to mental health problems in young people. Prof Edwards also called for cosmetic procedures to be banned for anyone under 18 unless they involve a multi-disciplinary team of specialists, GPs and psychologists.
A government spokesperson said: “This report highlights once again that we live in a world where young people are under immense pressure on a daily basis about how they should look – it is ethically wrong for companies to exploit this and offer unnecessary cosmetic procedures to under 18s.”
Coping with anxiety caused by issues like bullying or slow self-esteem is often helped with clinical hypnotherapy and the National Council for Hypnotherapy has around 1,800 qualified and highly-trained therapists across the UK with experience in dealing with these situations.
“Anxiety can manifest itself in different worries,” says the NCH. “It may be fear of being around other people, it may be anxiety in specific social situations, anxiety in your relationships with particular people at home, at school or at work, how you look and how you fit in to your social circle.”
An NCH therapist will assess your anxiety, and find the root of stress or anxiety and then work with you, through hypnosis, to reach your goal of a life free from anxiety, using a range of different techniques.
Says the NCH: “Hypnotherapy unlocks the potential you have to break free of negative thought patterns, and to react more positively and more confidently.”
The NHS says low self-esteem often begins in childhood, adding: “Teachers, friends, siblings, parents, and even the media send us messages about ourselves, both positive and negative. For some reason, the message that you are not good enough is the one that stays with you.”
To boost your self-esteem, says the NHS, you need to identify the negative beliefs you have about yourself and challenge them. One way to do this is through hypnotherapy and there is an NCH therapist near you who is ready to help. Simply click here to access the NCH directory and enter your post code to locate your nearest therapist.