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Bishop rejects cosmetic surgery culture and encourages schools to give children affirmation

Fri 02 Feb 2018
By Cara Bentley

Rt Rev Steven Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford has spoken to a group of head teachers to encourage them to help children feel loved so they don't seek identity in their appearance.

Speaking of the inundation of 'perfection' in our culture, Bishop Steven told Premier: "You can't turn on the television, you can't drive a hundred yards down the road... without being bombarded with these images of what humanity is 'supposed' to look like and I think it's very hard not to be effected by that - particularly for young people."

The bishop had been speaking at an event for leading head teachers where he said schools should teach children to look beyond the culture of cosmetic surgery, fast cars and designer labels.

He said: "These things play and feed on that and we need to recognise that that's not the way we find acceptance."

Bishop Steven said he was very sympathetic with young people feeling these pressures and added: "I think schools have a part to play in sharing and instilling young people with a different narrative."

When asked what does fulfil us he said: "What we human beings need more than anything else is the knowledge that we are loved - the knowledge that we are loved just because we are - not because of what we look like, not because of what we've achieved.

"One hopes that every human being receives that unconditional 'we love you just because you are' in the home but sadly we know that doesn't happen for everybody."

"If you're not receiving that unconditional love and affirmation in the home you need to receive it somewhere else - that's where schools can come in, and that's certainly where the church comes in and of course where God comes in."

"For those who do not experience that unconditional love with friends and family... I would say you can find that in God and in Jesus Christ."

When asked if it is wrong to change appearance or get cosmetic surgery he replied: "No... every time you buy a shirt or a pair of your shoes you are in a sense changing your appearance... it's about putting it in proper perspective, that that in itself is not the way one finds the real affirmation of love and acceptance that we all long for."

He described his message as just an expansion of the Gospel.

"This really is the very heart of the Christian revelation…that God in Jesus Christ loves us and he loves us just because we are - he doesn't want to change us by the way but he doesn't want to change us into someone else."

He also added that his message was for the heads teachers just as much as the students.

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