Actresses need mental health support to cope with negative body image – Equity

Equity’s Women’s Committee has called on more support for women pressured "to 'have the right look'". Photo: Shutterstock
Equity’s Women’s Committee has called on more support for women pressured "to 'have the right look'". Photo: Shutterstock
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Equity’s Women’s Committee is calling for more mental health support for female performers who are affected by negative body image.

Representatives from the union's committee attended the Trades Union Congress Women’s Conference, where they had two motions passed, the first of which related to negative female body image in the industry.

The motion, drafted by committee member Sue McGoun read: “Young women in particular are pressured to ‘have the right look’, or to be ‘the right size’ and to blend in with a body image that is deemed acceptable and that supposedly will help them succeed in their career.

“Alongside the financial worries of getting a job, finding an agent and just coping with living, it’s no wonder some cannot cope.”

The motion calls on teaching, health and arts-related unions to support positive and non-stereotypical representation of young girls and women, provide a safe place within the union to talk about mental health problems, and direct those affected to health professionals who can offer support.

A speech written by committee member Rosie Hilal said: “Auditions and even many TV and film jobs themselves are often a depressing process for actresses.

“The body and beauty ideals they are expected to live up to, while hiding any trace of their actual intelligence and capabilities as a human being, are very often demeaning, even in the supposedly high end of movie making.

“In our job, actresses of 23 are asked to play mothers, while actresses who are mothers are considered too old to play mothers. Actresses of 33 are considered ‘too old’ to play opposite male actors in their 50s. The list of outrageous practices goes on.”

The motion was seconded by the Community Workers Union.

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