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Championing healthy relationships

and sexual wellbeing

Zola, age 13

By age 13, 80% of girls are manipulating the pictures they post of themselves online and more screen time, but less connection, during lockdowns has made things worse. According to Young Minds, 67% believe the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health with 58% saying the worst thing is feeling lonely and isolated.

The Esteem programme helps young people build their confidence, and sense of self-esteem, and self-worth.

13-year-old Zola* talks about her experience of looking for connection and affirmation online

“I just don’t understand how everyone seems to be enjoying themselves so much. Seeing all my mates’ likes rocket up on their social media photos is really tough. 

I’ve started posting more and more online, trying to find a hook to get people’s attention. It’s taken a bit of experimentation, but finally, I’ve found something that works. I’ve started friending more and more people and started putting more and more effort into my looks. 

I’ve spent hours watching online make-up and photography tutorials and started to learn how to pose in the most flattering ways, in the best light. With a few filters on top, my photos are starting to get more likes.

It was hard to keep up with some of my classmates, especially during the summer when it seemed loads of them went on holiday - some even went abroad. But I just felt trapped being in London and my chances of a holiday abroad were zero. I couldn’t compete with the amazing locations and constant sun, so I had to up my game another way

I started taking more risks in the types of photos that I put on Instagram. I drew a line in my head about how far I would go… but I found the more that I pushed that line, the more likes I get. And as I expand my list of connections, I’ve found a whole new audience of people who like my posts! 

I’ve spent more time on social media, searching out new trends to jump on and new ways to build my popularity and gain likes. It feels exhausting to keep up this persona, winning at life when really it feels like my whole world is collapsing.

*name & image changed to protect identity

"I liked that we got to explore how we are all different but great in our own way. It really helped me understand the lie we’re told by the media - people are misled by images in the media as bodies and faces are altered, you can never look like most images because they are not real. I learned about self-compassion, to embrace my natural body, see the positive in myself, do things that make me happy, and not compare myself to others."     Feedback from students after an Esteem lesson on self-esteem and body image.

Help us support more young people like Zola. Give in the Champions for Children appeal between midday on June 8th and midday on June 15th - and your donation will be doubled! Click the button below to donate.

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Other young people's stories:

Frankie, 16 

Keisha, 11 

Ade, 12   

Bo, 14 

Jamie, 15