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Appearance related bullying

Appearance related bullying is bullying that targets an aspect of a person's appearance. It could be that they are bullied for their size, height or disfigurement.

Young person walking

More than half (55%) of young people have been bullied about the way they look, with two-fifths of those experiencing this bullying at least once a week, new findings from YMCA England & Wales show.

Most of the bullying focuses on weight and body shape, with 60% of young people admitting they tried to change their appearance after being bullied and 24% said they reduced the amount they ate or went on a diet. In some cases, the effect was more severe with one in ten of those being bullied about their looks having suicidal thoughts and 9% saying they self-harmed as a result.

YMCA England & Wales spoke to more than 1,000 young people aged 11 to 16 years old as part of its new research report ‘In Your Face’, which is part of its Be Real Campaign with Dove.

Highlighting the devastating effects appearance-based bullying has on young people, the research also revealed that, contrary to popular belief, most young people experience this bullying in person (72%) and not online. A staggering 80% of those getting bullied about the way they look say it takes place in school or college.

Other key findings from the Be Real Campaign’s ‘In Your Face’ research include:

  • 54% of young people who experience bullying about the way they look, do so by the age of 10
  • 1 in 2 of young people reported becoming anxious as a result of being bullied about the way they look
  • 53% of young people think bullies have insecurities about themselves / their own appearance


17 Apr 2017