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Teen girls hate how they look twice as much as young boys

Appearance is a major source of unhappiness for children, with girls almost twice as dissatisfied with the way they look as boys, a survey claims.

Research for the Children's Society into nearly 7,000 10 to 15-year-olds, showed 17.5pc were unhappy with their appearance.

But the research found that 22pc -- more than one in five -- of girls were unhappy with their looks compared to 13pc of boys.

Unhappiness with appearance grew as children got older, the survey found, peaking at 28pc among girls -- or more than one in four -- in the 14 to 15-year-old group.

By contrast, young African, Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi children were "significantly" happier with their appearance than white children, the research found.

Girls also registered lower levels of overall happiness than boys. Although both boys and girls tend to become unhappier as they get older, the research found, the gap in well-being between the sexes increased with age.

Among the 14-15 age group, girls' average well-being score was 7.2 out of 10, compared with 7.6 for boys.

The findings about girls' unhappiness levels -- and their dissatisfaction with appearance -- come after the Children's Society published its landmark Good Childhood Inquiry last year.

The final report by the inquiry, among other recommendations, urged advertisers to stop encouraging the premature sexualisation of children.

Andrew Hill, a professor of medical psychology who has a special interest in eating disorders and body image, said the findings about girls' unhappiness with their appearance were not a surprise.

He said: "It mirrors the previous findings and that is something to do with the way that society values women more by their appearance and the cultural transmission of that social value.

"Often girls pick up on that from a much younger age than 10 years old."

He added: "We live in a highly visual culture that not only evaluates people by what they look like but mirrors this on TV by making judgments about minor celebrities' appearance rather than their true higher value qualities.

"We live in a very superficial culture where appearance is absolutely everything in politics just as in pop music -- every time you are in public you are under public scrutiny."

hnews@herald.ie