As a parent and step-parent of 7 children, including 5 teenagers, I'm painfully aware of just how big a part body image plays for young people. They're worried about everything ~ weight, height, spots, greasy hair, how big their bum/boobs/muscles are, how pale they are, what their teeth look like, how big their feet or thumbs are, you name it, it's a point of concern.
Since its launch in 2004 the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DESP) has had the aim to give young people the confidence to be happy about who they are and what they look like, and know that everyone has beauty, we don't need to conform to a rigid set of unrealistic visual values.They have delivered self-esteem education to over 11 million young people aged 8-16 in schools and youth groups and online via the Dove Self-Esteem Project website. They are hoping for that figure to be 15 million by 2015.
I find this incredibly sad, millions of young women cannot possibly compete on an even level or ever achieve their potential because they are so hung up on body image and how other people will judge them because of appearance."Low body confidence is an issue that particularly affects British girls, with 47% of 11-14 year old girls admitting to the DSEP that they "opt out of everyday activities because they don't like the way they look".
The Dove UK Research also found out that 1in5 girls start worrying about how they look at 8 or 9. This is really heartbreaking. 8 year olds should be busy playing, they shouldn't even need a mirror...
Some of the key findings from the research are at the bottom of this post.
The Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) will today announce a collaboration with Girlguiding. Together they've created the Body Confidence Badge. The purpose of the badge is to educate girls on the importance of self-esteem and it should reach more than 400,000 girls in the UK and 3.5m worldwide.
Girlguiding Chief Executive, Julie Bentley, said: “Through the creation of this badge, we’re hoping to help girls realise their full potential and feel better about their bodies and the way they look.”
Lucy Attley, Dove UK & Ireland Brand Director: "Lack of self-esteem is leading to girls missing out on activities and society missing out on the contributions these activities could bring. The aim of the Dove Self-Esteem Project is to help make girls unstoppable by overcoming poor body confidence and our partnership with Girlguiding in the UK enables us to positively influence thousands of young girls and help put a stop to them missing out on simple everyday activities because of how they feel about their bodies.”
The partnership between DSEP and Girlguiding is being announced today on Day Of The Girl, and a variety of activities will take place at the Southbank Centre in London throughout the day. They will all highlight the issues of 'missing out' and how low body confidence is a particular issue for British girls.
Among the activities will be self-esteem workshops, talks from inspirational women (including Mumsnet founder Carrie Longton) and speed mentoring sessions in the London Eye.
Dove have created an art installation on the Riverside Terrace at the Southbank Centre in London. Called 'Missing Out', it intends to draw attention to the impact low self-esteem has on girls' lives. It will be there from 9th - 13th October. Passers-by and visitors will be able to get information and will be encouraged to share their own 'missing out' stories and messages of inspiration by writing them directly onto the installation.
One of the biggest parts of the project is the Dove Self-Esteem Project website. I've been looking at the website to see what I think, and 2 of my teenage girls have helped me.
Both girls were really impressed with the look, they both described it as 'cute' and really liked the illustrations and the videos. I feel they've pitched it really well. It's feminine, but not girlie and it's not 'old 'either. It's really easy to navigate around the site because each page suggests more related pages. There are tags for different age groups and we were really impressed with the range of ages that the website caters for.
Each article is accompanied by pictures or video, a game or a challenge. The games and challenges were the most popular bit of the site, we all really enjoyed them. They're quick and easy to understand, and my 13 yer old was really pleased that there was button to 'share with your Mum/Daughter' with one click. At the bottom of each article are an 'Action Checklist' and a 'What Next: Action Steps To Help'. We all felt that the actions given would be helpful.
My girls liked the 'cute little phrases' and messages that are dotted round the site. They both were impressed with the amount of links and related information for further reading on subjects that catch your eye. The entire site really is laden with useful tips and hints.
My 15 year old was especially impressed with the Evolution video above. She described it as 'interesting and powerful'. It shows how images of beauty are manipulated by the media and it really does make you think. It is an excellent tool for reminding us all that you can't always believe your eyes.
We did have 2 criticisms of the website. My 13 year old felt a few times when it said "you should talk to your daughter about this" she wouldn't have found that very likely or comfortable (maybe that's something I need to work on). My 15 year old was disturbed by the women-only nature of the website. She feels it would be better "gender-neutral because girls aren't the only ones with self-esteem issues".
Having had my own family experience and previously working in education with young adults I can see that sadly all of the facts and figures are seemingly true. At work we used to spend a lot of our time on self-esteem issues and encouraging young women to feel confident in themselves and their own abilities. At home I am constantly having to reassert to my girls that they are beautiful and clever and can have a good shot at whatever they set their mind to.
I've always been behind Dove and their Campaign for Real Beauty, and I think the Dove Self-Esteem Project is an excellent thing.
For further information on the Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP) visit: selfesteem.dove.co.ukFor further information on Girlguiding visit: www.girlguiding.org.uk
For further information on Day Of The Girl visit: www.facebook.com/DayOfTheGirl
To follow what's happening on Twitter follow the hashtag #doveselfesteem
What girls are missing out on because they don’t like how they look:Dove UK Research: Summary of Key Findings
· Swimming (34%)*· Running or jogging (22%)*· Gymnastics (17%)*· Joining team sports or activities (23%)*· Attending a friend’s birthday party or social event (9%)*· Going to the beach with a friend (9%)*· Putting their hand up in the classroom (23%)*
Mentors who girls feel is the person most likely to persuade them to take part in activities:
• Their mum (49%)*
• Their friends (23%)*• Their dad (10%)*
The age when girls start to feel pressure to look beautiful:
• 8 (7%)*
• 9 (11.4%)*
• 10 (23%)*
• 11 (27%)*
The one piece of advice that 11-14 year girls would give to other girls their age is:
• Don’t compare yourself to others (26%)*
• Don't worry about your appearance - you are beautiful as you are (19%)*
• Don't feel pressured to conform to society's view of what beauty is (16%)*• Surround yourself with friends and family who will love and support you (16%)*
*Quantitative research was carried out by OnePoll with 500 UK girls (aged 11-14) in September 2013. Full research results are available upon request.
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.
My teenagers were given High Street Vouchers in return for their time.