Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What is Beauty?

Have you ever looked in a mirror and not liked what you see or wished you looked more like someone else? I admit I've had these thoughts before. I don't like that I've thought them and have consciously tried to change my thinking. I'll take another look to find something I do like.

Did you also know that girls as young as 8 think these same things? There is a growing problem in the United States with regard to how young girls view themselves. Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, commissioned by the Dove® Self-Esteem Fund found that seven in ten girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members. I encourage you to read the entire report here (pdf file)(http://www.rocketxl.com/dsef/assets/DSEF_Report.pdf) . An alarming number of these girls with low self-esteem are engaging in harmful and destructive activities.

I have several young girls who I care deeply about in my life. They range in ages from 2 -18. I want them to be able to look at themselves with respect and to have a healthy and positive body image. It's very hard in today's world to have a positive self image when we are bombarded with media telling us otherwise. Take a look at this quick video from Dove. It really shows what we face everyday from the media.

With this onslaught of images you may wonder how do you build and support a girl's growing self-esteem? I have these same questions. My niece was given a nickname (that I do not approve of) by a friend of her parents. He calls her Chubby and has called her this since she was very young. My niece is a very slender and tall 4 year old. I wonder what him calling her Chubby will do to her self image as she grows? I know I have said things about my weight in front of her. Not on purpose, the comments have just slipped out. I wonder what that will do to her as well. I really try to keep a lid on those type of remarks.

Dove has been a driving force in changing how girls and women view beauty by widening the medias definition of what is beautiful. In doing so they are also changing how society views beauty. Dove created The Dove Self-Esteem Fund which was established to inspire and educate girls about these wider definitions of beauty. They are committed to reaching 5 million girls globally by 2010 with self-esteem programming. Thanks to the support of influential women globally, Dove has already reached 2 million girls and conducted nearly 2,700 educational self-esteem workshops since 2006. Way to go Dove!

Do you remember those questions I had earlier? How to build up a girl's self-esteem? Dove has created a website http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.com/ where you can get information and free self-esteem building tools for girls, moms, and mentors. These tools can be downloaded right from your computer and include a workbook, Trueyou! for mothers and girls do to together. There are quizzes and games for girls to play and information for moms too. There is also information on hosting your own Real Beauty workshop. I say if you know a girl under the age of 20, whether it be your daughter, niece, granddaughter or friend's daughter, head on over to Dove's website to find out how you can help build her positive self-esteem. Every little bit of positivity helps.

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