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In the news - Bethan Stritton

Bethan, a personal-development coach from the Isle of Wight, has written a book called Grow Your Own Gorgeousness, intended to help school pupils challenge pervasive beauty myths. She is working on educational resources to accompany the book.

What made you write this book?

"We all have ways of perceiving the world and ourselves. It's like a blueprint for the subconscious. If you think the world is an awful place, your attention will be drawn to things that are awful. These paradigms come from family, culture, the media. We want to teach children that we have a beauty paradigm: to be beautiful, you are expected to be young, slim and flawless."

How do we weed out these ideas?

"I talk about the dangling carrot of unreal beauty. The beauty industry is holding it up on a stick and women beat themselves up trying to reach it. We want to help children decide for themselves what the beauty paradigm should be, relax within their own bodies, and stop trying to reach the dangling carrot of beauty and grow their own gorgeousness instead."

Beauty self-sufficiency?

"The idea about self-reliance is that you can be in control of how you feel about yourself. You are not allowing your size or the colour of your hair to define you. Your worth is judged by what you express, what you bring to the world. That's when you start to be self-sufficient."

Where did this idea germinate?

"As a teenager, I developed bulimia for a while. Then, as I grew older, I saw one woman hospitalised with anorexia and a girl exercise herself to death. Most women come up against the body battle at some point in their lives."

Should schools sow the seeds of self-esteem?

"A lot of young people who go off the rails - falling in with the wrong people, getting pregnant - have a need for approval, love and self-worth. If people are given a secure basis of self-esteem, that affects their attitude to life and their choices. It takes them in a more positive direction."

You're aiming to change the entire ecosystem?

"Look at smoking, look at wearing seatbelts in cars. As long as enough people make the push, real change can be made."

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