Entertainment & Arts

Jennifer Saunders fears social media is making girls ill

Jennifer Saunders Image copyright AP
Image caption Saunders said girls "think they're being empowered somehow'" by taking the perfect selfie

Absolutely Fabulous star Jennifer Saunders has said she is worried social media is making young women ill.

The comedian said trying to follow the example of women like Kim Kardashian on Twitter "can't be good for you" because she looks like an "automaton".

"There's nothing great about it. I hate the way it makes girls think they should look," Saunders said.

She added that girls were "getting ill because all they spend their lives doing is finding the perfect selfie".

Saunders enjoyed success on TV with comedy partner Dawn French in the 1980s before writing and starring in Absolutely Fabulous.

She told the Mail on Sunday that French and Saunders avoided undue pressure about their appearance when they emerged and "all we wanted was to look like Bananarama".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Saunders (right) reunited with Joanna Lumley for the Absolutely Fabulous film

Today, though, celebrities are brands, she said.

"Kim Kardashian is a brand just from going on social media. It's extraordinary. I admire the chutzpah, but I've got a feeling that it can't be good for you.

"There's nothing great about it. I hate the way it makes girls think they should look. That Kim Kardashian look, it's so automaton.

"Girls spend longer and longer in the bloody bathroom, looking in the mirror, taking selfies. Girls now are getting ill because all they spend their lives doing is finding the perfect selfie.

"And you think, 'Oh, isn't that everything we tried not to be? Everything we wanted them not to have to worry about?' And yet they think they're being empowered somehow."

In recent months, a string of reports have highlighted problems young women face with mental health.

NHS Digital has said young women are the highest risk group in England for mental health problems, the Department for Education has said the mental well-being of teenage girls in England has worsened in recent years and the Children's Society has said girls are becoming more unhappy.

Image caption Saunders said she and Dawn French just wanted to look like Bananarama

Saunders, who has almost 550,000 followers on Twitter, said she was going off the platform because "everyone's a critic".

She said: "At least in the old days you didn't know how many people liked you or hated you. You just lived in this blissful close circle of friends, and everyone else was just the world, you know?

"Nowadays, I'm not surprised people are crack-ups, because you think, 'This is unsafe.'"

Saunders revived the characters from Absolutely Fabulous for a movie, which was released earlier this year. But she said they will not have any more outings in the future.

"I'm not doing anything more with Ab Fab," she said. "That's it. That. Is. It. I can't see the point of doing anything else with it, really.

"It just takes so long. There's lots of other stuff I'd like to do. Plus I'd like to spend time with my grandchildren. So if I did Ab Fab as well, that would just stop me doing anything new or thinking of any other ideas or having a different job or whatever."

She is now working on a new sitcom about the changing face of London's East End, she revealed.

"Gentrification. Hipsters versus the old East End, that sort of idea. I always wanted to do a Rising Damp-style sitcom about a house full of people, of all sorts."

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