70% of teens lack confidence after being bulled over appearance, study finds

Seven in 10 teenagers and young adults lack confidence in their appearance after being bullied over their height, weight or hair, according to a study.

Research into 1,000 13-25 year-olds found that more than half (54%) have been a victim of bullying in the past, while 17% are still experiencing it now.

More than four in 10 have faced abuse due to their looks while another 37% have suffered taunts about their weight – and 27% over their hair. Of those, 46% were bullied simply because of their hairstyle and another 44% have had comments on the colour.

Others were picked on because of how straight their hair was (34%) and the fact they had dandruff (36%).

Worryingly, this abuse ranges from 'small' comments (57%) to outright physical attacks (27%) – but much of the bullying now takes place online (31%).

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The research, commissioned by Head & Shoulders to launch its anti-bullying campaign #Freetheshoulders, also found that because of the taunts, almost seven in 10 now lack confidence in their appearance.

And 58% went as far as to say they 'hate the way they look'.

Diversity star and Head & Shoulders’ anti-bullying ambassador, Perri Kiely, said: “I was bullied a lot at school because I always stood out as the big hair kid in the glasses.

“When I joined Diversity, it was still difficult as now I had millions of eyes on me and with all the incredible fans support I received, I’d also get abusive social posts.

“I was lucky because I had the support of my group which gave me comfort and confidence.

“It’s important for me to bring awareness to this campaign and empower others to join me in brushing off the negativity. No matter the reason, bullying should never be accepted.”

The study also found that 33% of those who have been bullied avoided socialising, while 31% don’t put pictures of themselves up on social media.

More than three in 10 (31%) have also covered up aspects of their appearance due to the negative comments, while a quarter (24%) skipped school and 21% avoided social media altogether.

It also emerged that 37% experienced more cyberbullying during lockdown than ever before, and 35% experienced it for the first time ever.

For 27% of those who faced bullying over their appearance, it had a negative impact on their school performance.

And other have become isolated or antisocial (41%) or tried to change their appearance (40%).

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Worryingly, one fifth of young people (19%) kept quiet about their experiences, because they didn’t know who to turn to (18%) or feared it would lead to more bullying (11%).

Sadly, bullying that happens at school can leave lasting trauma, long into adulthood, as 65% of those polled, via OnePoll, who are over 18 said it had negatively impacted their adult life.

Head & Shoulders is joining forces with the Anti-Bullying Programme from The Diana Award charity as part of a two-year partnership to educate one million young people, parents and adults.

It aims to help both end bullying and eliminate some of the cultural stigmas that are the source of bullying today – including dandruff.

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Alex Holmes, deputy CEO of The Diana Award, said: “We believe in the power of young people to stand up for what is right and to support each other.

“In the UK, you spend around 11,000 hours of your life at school, so it is such a crucial part of young people’s development and childhood, of which bullying should not be a barrier to them fulfilling their potential and leading happy and safe lives.

“Through our work we have seen that our school programmes can really empower young people to change behaviours and shape attitudes, ensuring school is a safe and happy place, which is why we are so proud to team up with Head & Shoulders to continue to fight bullying.”

To participate in the programmes, schools, parents, teachers and kids can sign up at Head and Shoulders.

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