The pressure to look in line with society’s picture of perfection is increasingly pushed through social media and has become a critical issue for people all over the world. Global Dove Self-Esteem Project research has shown that when girls don’t feel good about the way they look, 8 in 10 opt out of important life activities such as engaging with friends or loved ones.
Low body-confidence, self-esteem and appearance discrimination continue to be overlooked and contribute to the gender gap by preventing young women and girls from full participation and leadership.
This International Women’s Day 2020 #EachforEqual, we are celebrating reaching 6 million participants through the Free Being Me and Action on Body Confidence programmes, boosting body confidence and supporting children and young people to advocate on body confidence issues in their community.
Since 2013, the programmes have delivered activities including games, surveys and discussions that celebrate image diversity and uncover the problems that low body confidence causes. The curriculum has also supported girls across the world to take part in advocacy projects which tackle discrimination issues.
Here are just a few of the messages we have received...
"We share the positive messages we have learned with our classmates. I tell them, looks don’t matter and what’s on the inside is more important" – Ella, Girl Guide, Singapore Girl Guides Association
During their Action on Body Confidence activities Lee and Ella took part in a role-play, where the lead character was a mouse who kept grooming herself, which led to her being late for a playdate with her friends.
Lee spoke with us about how she was inspired to share what she has learned with her peer. “I realised that one of my classmates was very conscious of her appearance, so I showed her how to feel free and just be herself.”
"We decorate dressing room mirrors with ‘positive people’ to spread body positive messages to everyone who visits our guiding unit!" - Hayley Thomas, Group Leader, Girl Guiding New Zealand
Hayley discusses the idea behind the The Cambridge Ranger Unit’s ‘positive people’
“As a Unit we choose to make a difference by writing positive messages for people to see when they are trying on clothes at local clothing stores. We are hoping that people will see these messages and feel great about themselves just the way they are."
"As Guiding Leaders, we visit local schools to teach girls about body confidence and also to discuss ways that Girl Guides can spread the message of body positivity to their peers and within their communities." Mitchel, Group Leader, Kenya Girl Guides
Mitchel is just one of many Guiding Group Leaders who have ran an Action Project with Girl Guides in schools. During her project Mitchel reached out to The Ministry of Education through the Country Education Director’s Office, who gave permission for training to take place in Schools in their region.
Mitchel discussed what running the programme meant to those who took part. ‘The pupils had the opportunity to talk about the image concerns they have and on what having self-confidence means to them. Girls learn that they should be proud of their body shapes and how to share out in advocacy against image myths within their society."
In pursuit of SDG Target 5.1 which calls for an end to all forms of discrimination against women and girls, and 5.5 which calls for women’s effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making, we advocate for the below:
Government recognise body confidence, body image pressure and self-esteem as a key challenge of the modern world, and advancement of women and young girls; in relation to the SDGs and Beijing Platform for Action.
Government fund and carry out research to establish a national base line that address issues of body confidence and self-esteem particularly girl only spaces understanding of the nature and implications of low body confidence through committed support and funding non-formal education programming.