‘If everyone was less judgmental it would solve so many problems. If people could express themselves without the fear of judgement the world would be a happier place. I want every young girl to acknowledge that we have the right to be powerful and to love ourselves so that we can grow and be the ones to change the future for the better.’
Onyx, from Abercarn in Wales, is passionate about female confidence and wants to teach other young women how to love themselves without taking other people’s opinions into consideration. The 17-year-old had very low self-esteem from a young age and now encourages others to ‘believe in themselves and be whoever you want to be’.
Click here to find out more about Onyx’s campaign.
‘I have anxiety about my body in general because of my cerebral palsy. I want other people to know there’s no need to change, they should embrace who they are.’
Lyla was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was born and couldn’t walk until the age of five. The 26-year-old, from Leeds, believes it is important not to be judged on what you look like, but to be valued on who you are and your values. The aim of Lyla’s Fixers project was to reduce the stigma around disability in the South Asian community.
‘Schools do not understand that body image issues can start as young as five. We are aware of our bodies and how other people look; your brain is already starting to make these links.’
Bethany, from Durham, is currently working on a Fixers project about peer support services. In the past, the 18-year-old has struggled with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. She believes peer support services gave her a safe space where she felt comfortable to share her feelings with others going through similar experiences, whilst also having the support of professionals.
‘Your body size and shape is a very individual thing. Too many books say what is right and wrong; people do not look and appreciate individuals.’
Kiki, from London, worked with Fixers to encourage young people to focus on the positives of their appearance and do more of what makes them happy. The 19-year-old struggled with her own body image and mental health after a skin condition left her so lacking in confidence she wouldn't leave the house without full make-up and restricted her eating to strive for 'perfection'. Kiki is committed to making a positive change in society.
‘I teach plumbing and I’m constantly being told I’m not a ‘real woman’ and I’m not feminine enough or that I must be a lesbian. You’re constantly being told that if you’re not wearing a dress you’re not a real woman.’
Lysette, from Bradford, is concerned that women are not taken seriously in male-dominated workplaces. The 25-year-old has struggled with body image issues as a result of not being able to secure a job in the trading industry. Last year Lysette lead a project titled ‘Women in Construction’ to raise awareness about these limitations and encourage more young women to consider construction as a career path and defy the odds.
‘Growing up with a school nurse as a mum she told me that healthy eating and nutrition is important but not everyone has that and people are brought up with conversations around the home about buying Weight Watchers food.’
16-year-old Ellie Hawcutt has been working with Fixers to raise awareness about body image in the dance industry. The York teen wants more women to embrace their individual beauty and work together to break down stereotypes she believes are encouraged by the media.
‘As a Bangladeshi Muslim there is an emphasis on hijabs and niqabs. We shouldn’t be attacked for how we choose to dress; we are all humans at the end of the day. It affects our body image.’
Tamanna was the only ethnic minority in her class whilst growing up and she experienced racial bullying throughout her time in education. The 24-year-old, from London, struggled with body image from a very young age and felt that her teachers didn't understand the problems she faced.
With the help of Fixers, Tamanna made a film sharing her personable experiences of racial bullying.
‘I want to get people accepting that not everybody will fit their perception of ‘normal’, but that’s what makes everybody interesting and special.’
Labelled a freak for dressing differently to her peers in school, Kayleigh from Manchester is encouraging people to embrace their differences and be themselves. She was singled out as a teenager by other pupils who would often call her names and even trip her up in the corridor. She resorted to hiding in the library to keep out of others’ way.
'When I looked through magazines I would feel jealous of the models and I would tell myself I wish I looked like that.’
Chloe, 19, became super-critical of her own looks despite being a runner-up in beauty pageants after becoming absorbed by magazine and Instagram model. The teenager, from Workington, teamed up with Fixers to get her message out to other young people that they should be positive about their body image and accept themselves for who they really are.
‘People do not concentrate on how smart they are. They comment on how beautiful they are.’
Abbie became a Fixer aged 20 in 2016 because she had experienced mental ill health after being bullied at school and wanted to help others overcome their problems. She has gone on to become a body image ambassador and shares messages of hope to help young women with their own self-esteem
The Body Image Fix for girls is supported by The Tampon Tax Fund distributed by The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. DCMS helps to drive growth, enrich lives and promote Britain abroad.
The Body Image Fix for boys is supported by Wellcome Trust. 'Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We're a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.