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‘Boys might be under more pressure than girls for their looks’

As part of the Dove Self-Esteem Project, student Ashton, 14, blogs for Parent Zone about football, body worries, media pressure and why PSHE lessons don’t give him what he needs. 

I guess I’m a normal teenager – at least as normal as anyone else my age. My name is Ashton and I am 14.

I am learning Japanese, because I watch loads of anime. I want to go to Japan when I’m older as I love the culture. I like playing piano, guitar, and video games. My friends and I hang out round each other’s houses or go to town. We talk a lot to each other. It’s the usual stuff – how we’ve been, stuff about our personal lives.

‘I get concerned about being too skinny’

There is pressure on boys and girls to look a certain way.

I also quite like working out. I do think about my looks a lot and sometimes I can get a bit concerned about being too skinny. I think girls and boys are both under the same sort of pressure about how they look. In fact, I think there might be more pressure for boys.

I don’t know if schools know this so well, but we haven’t really had any PSHE lessons that cover body issue pressure for boys. We’ve talked about some things, such as eating disorders, but most of the students think it is the least important class. Either it’s boring or it doesn’t really teach us anything we don’t already know.

I don’t really think there is anything teachers can do, and sometimes it seems like they don’t really have enough classes that cover a lot of the things that worry boys and girls, such as how you look and feel about yourself.

‘Some friends are scared to ask their parents about embarrassing things’

My parents are good to talk to but lots of my friends don’t have that sort of relationship or are scared to ask their parents about embarrassing things. Instead, they mainly just talk to friends.

If you wanted to know something, you can ask a friend you trust, and then search it up online. You go on lots of different websites to see if they all say the same thing.

Even though we don’t do much at school, I think if our PSHE lessons were better, or we were able to talk about more of the things that worried us, it would make a big difference, especially to those who don’t have someone to speak to.  

‘Nobody should feel under pressure to look a certain way’

Ashton doesn't look up to footballers, but believes they are 'basically just normal people'

I like sport although I wouldn’t say I’m a sporty person. We play football and it is fun one-on-one, but not so much at school as everyone piles in and it becomes a bit of a mosh pit. I watch football, but I haven’t really got too excited about all the hype around the World Cup. Even though footballers can be role models for others, it’s not really for me. I prefer to watch table tennis matches!

I saw a story online about an England player [Raheem Sterling] who got a tattoo of a gun on his leg. I didn’t really care that he did it and none of my friends were talking about it, so I didn’t understand the fuss. It’s not like any of my mates are going to run out and get gun tattoos because a footballer did.

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It’s a bit rude that footballers get singled out for how they look. People forget that footballers are basically just normal people. If some random person on the street had a bad style, they wouldn’t get picked on in the media. Nobody should feel under pressure to look a certain way – and that is the kind of thing that we should be talking about more in school.