BULLiedgirlIn an attempt to boost their self-esteem and develop body confidence, Girlguiding is launching its first body confidence badge – ‘Free Being Me'.

Reality TV shows and glossy magazines featuring airbrushed models and celebrities are putting girls under unbearable pressure to look perfect, resulting in those as young as seven going on diets, a rise in eating disorders and more and more young women going under the knife to improve their looks.

Girls who complete a training course to help challenge beauty myths such as airbrushed photos and the dangers of being too thin will be awarded the badge, and they will also be encouraged to spread the word with posters, videos and T-shirts. Girl Guides aged 10 to 14 will learn about unattainable beauty myths, while Brownies aged seven to ten will explore the dubious role model of princesses.

This comes after a recent survey by the Guide Association which revealed that a fifth of girls at primary school have been on a diet, nearly 90% aged 11 to 25 believed they were judged more on their looks than abilities, and one in four said they would consider plastic surgery.

Nearly 1,000 'peer educators' aged between 14 and 25 have been trained and the aim is to reach more than 400,000 girls. One of them, Jenna Nicholls said: “I have seen friends go through eating disorders, really suffer from self-confidence issues. It's always there, there's always that constant expectation to look a certain way."

The "free being me" programme is being run in conjunction with the Dove Self-Esteem Project, which aims to improve the self-esteem of girls and young women.