Empowering girls to nurture a positive body image – Merissa Forsyth 17 March 2022

Did you know that…

38% of 4 year old girls are dissatisfied with their bodies?

34% of 5 year old girls reported an intention to diet?

68% of 5-8 year olds reported being teased for their appearance?

Pre-school children who feel dissatisfied with their body may be at risk for an eating disorder in the future?

With an alarming increase in the presentation of eating disorders Australia wide, and increasingly in the younger population, prevention is possible!

Merissa Forsyth, CEO & Founder of Pretty Foundation, a not-for-profit dedicated to instilling body confidence in young girls aged 2-6, talks about what we can do to make a difference to the lives of our young children.

The journey of Pretty Foundation began in 2012 when Merissa said a desperate prayer as she was driving into work. At the top of her voice, she screamed out the question ‘what am I doing with my life?’ It was at that point that an idea came to her to start a campaign called ‘Makeup Free Me’. It was a campaign where women and girls would go bare faced for a day and stop and reflect on where they found their true value. So, she went into work, quit her job and started developing the idea. In 2013 she launched the campaign, partnering with a body image charity and raising funds for their programs. To her surprise, there was much interest with television, radio, newspapers and magazines and reporting on the campaign and many every day and high profile women taking part.

After a few years of running this campaign however, Merissa asked herself and her team why the issue of negative body image didn’t seem to be going away in our society. No one could answer the question, so she decided to dig deeper. Merissa spoke to lots of experts, read a lot of research and what she found was this: there were many body image programs for teenage girls and even some for primary school girls but there wasn’t really anything in the early education space.

Merissa decided it was time to start a charity that focused on early education and prevention. And that’s how the Pretty Foundation was born!