Girl Guide Leader taking body image issue global

Emma Gees.
Emma Gees.
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A Leeds Girl Guide Leader is taking the issue of body image global.

Emma Gees, a University of Leeds medical student, tackled the thorny issue at a special event in London, speaking in front of Government representatives and Caryn Franklin, MBE, founder of All Walks on the Catwalk.

The Hyde Park student was taking part in Girlguiding’s Talk Body Politics roundtable discussion, which aims to help address the problems caused by negative body image.

“So many girls feel they’re judged on their looks rather than their abilities, but this can cause low self-esteem and cause them to miss out on their potential,” says Emma, 23.

“It’s important to break the cycle and get them to understand beauty isn’t skin deep - it’s about inner beauty and inner strength,” she adds.

Emma says girls are bombarded with negative images and airbrushed ideals of beauty, along with tiny shop mannequins that all create a myth of perfection.

Girlguiding’s most recent Girls’ Attitudes Survey found 33 per cent of girls aged 7-21 were unhappy with the way they look and 71 per cent aged 11-21 would like to lose weight.

The organisation’s new body confidence badge, Free Being Me, written in partnership with Dove and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, is a Girlguiding Peer Education initiative which challenges young women to stand up and take action to stop unhealthy body ideals affecting the next generation of girls.

It is hoped the programme will reach 400,000 girls and young women by the end of 2016.


Girlguiding is a charity for girls and young women in the UK, with 546,406 members.

The Girlguiding roundtable events will run twice more in 2014, discussing a different topic each time. They will extend into 2015.

The charity runs Rainbows (5–7 years), Brownies (7–10 years), Guides (10–14 years) and The Senior Section (14–25 years).

Emma helps run the 95th Leeds Rangers in Hyde Park. She believes body image should be taught in schools.

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