Friday 11 October 2013

International Day Of The Girl ~ The Dove Self-Esteem Project

Friday 11th October is the International Day Of The Girl and to celebrate Mumsnet are working with Dove to promote the Dove Self-Esteem Project.

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.
"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". 
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.

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.”
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.

Self Esteem Project Southbank London

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.

Dove Self Esteem Project

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 DOVE Evolution video. 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:
For further information on Girlguiding visit:
For further information on Day Of The Girl visit:
To follow what's happening on Twitter follow the hashtag #doveselfesteemWhat girls are missing out on because they don’t like how they look:
·         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.


  1. I can't believe at 8 girls would start worrying about what hey look like - crazy! Seems like a great campaign though and one that will be so relevant to parents no matter what she their kids are xx

    1. It is heartbreaking they care at all at that age, there's no time to be child! It is a great campaign :) x

  2. 6yo already says she's not pretty when she wears her glasses. That makes me sad.

    1. www, that's really sad and not at all true. I've seen many photo's of your young lady and she's incredibly pretty - glasses don't alter that x

  3. As the mother of a baby (toddler?) girl I am really fearful in this area. When i watch my beautiful, dainty 12 year old niece saying she is fat, or isn't pretty it breaks my heart. I think a large part of it is helping girls to be nicer to other girls, and for women to set a good example too. This example, of course, needs to be shared with our boys. I'm sick and tired of seeing 'like for a rate' as my nephews' Facebook statuses. Seriously? 14 years olds are giving each other a mark out of 10 these days? It makes me feel ill. Social media is a wonderful thing but I can't help but think it is having a significant impact on our children's self esteem.

    How many times do we look in the mirror and criticise ourselves, or avoid looking in the mirror altogether? We need to teach our daughters to be able to do so with positivity and confidence. We also need to stop criticising other women based on appearance, because they are watching us and learning from that too. If women were, generally, kinder to ourselves and each other I hope it would make the process of raising strong, confident girls more easy.

    I think that the partnership with the Girl Guides is an excellent idea but I can't help thinking that the campaign won't reach the girls who need it most in that way. I'm not sure Guiding is in any way view as 'cool' so the girls who are already preoccupied with their appearance and outward image probably aren't members of the Guides. I'd probably argue that being a member of the Girl Guides is something a girl would have to be personally strong and a little defiant to do, in order to withstand the peer pressure of it not being cool so those girls might be in least need of help with their confidence. We're a Scouting family and we've seen so many of our boys and girls leave when they get to a certain age because of their peer group so I'm speaking from experience. I'm not sure what the easiest way to reach other girls would be though, probably through school.

    Sorry, it's an essay.

    1. It's okay - essays are welcome and you make some great points. I view the Guiding thing the other way. Maybe it's the quiet ones who stay in Guiding that actually are the ones who need the confidence boost They're the ones more likely to miss out and the ones who need to learn how to accept themselves :)

    2. I hadn't thought of it from that sort of perspective, I suspect that there is probably a mixture of both in the movement.

    3. I imagine it's geographical - you know how these things are. When the 'cool kids' join in then it becomes trendy for bit and they take over, then they move on and you're back to status quo for while :)

  4. That is an eye opener how young girls start to worry. I agree its not just women but I think now there is also huge pressure on young men and how they should look. A great piece and thanks for the links, as its good to be informed. Thanks

  5. 5 yr old Miss M hates looking pretty because she thinks people will laugh at her, no idea why she thinks like that and she doesn't like talking about it too much. I try to ensure she doesn't worry about things too much and hopefully she'll grow up to be more body confident then I am.

    1. Fingers crossed because really in all of the photo's I've seen of you, there really is no need for you to feel anything other than confident :)

  6. That video is scary true! The amount of photos on magazines that are airbrushed even just a wonder women and girls feel such pressure to look a certain way. Everyone is unique/special in their way and that is what makes a person beautiful.

    1. It is proper scary, isn't it! The daft thing is we're watching and thinking how unnatural they make her, but the end result looks totally acceptable to us!

  7. I think this is so important. I remember being a teenager and having so many concerns about the way I looked and having next to no self confidence. I wish I had the hindsight and knew how unimportant all that really is. I really hope this helps young girls with their confidence. Having a young daughter I am going to be faced with these problems soon enough and I just hope I can help her!

    1. It's true. I look back at myself as teenager and I can't believe I ever worried about my size or my hair or anything :D

  8. Very interesting read.My 7 year old has already started worrying about how she looks, I think from friends influencing. It is sad that in this day and age that girls are made to feel bad about the way they look!! x

    1. It is sad, and girls can be so mean too. At 7 they really shouldn't be at all interested in what they look like - there are far more important things to be doing than worrying!

  9. I have 3 nieces now aged from 15-18 and have been through self esteem and body issues with all of them at different times. It is so sad to watch a tall, slim, beautiful young girl with long blonde hair believe that she is fat and ugly - heartbreaking watching her trying to get thin and trust me she had no weight issues at all. Thankfully all of the girls seem to be much happier in their skins now.

    1. It is awful. My daughter constantly complains about her belly - and she's thin as a rake!

  10. It's tragic that so many girls are missing out on experiences because of worries about the way they look. I'm really hoping that things will have changed by the time Gwen becomes old enough to care. My fear, though, is that Austin will also have to face worries about his appearance.....

    1. Yeah - it's definitely not only girls who feel the pressure....hopefully things will get a bit better.

  11. They do such a good job every year on this, and it's great that Dove have got involved. Life's too short to worry about every tiny aspect of our appearance, and girls need the confidence to go out there and get on with life x

    1. Totally agree. It's something we tell them ll the time, it's just convincing them it's true that's the problem!

  12. I think it's wonderful that big companies are taking it upon themselves to encourage self esteem in young girls. As an older lady in her 30's, I can honestly say that I wish I had developed self esteem a little earlier.


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