“Let’s Make Girls Unstoppable” (sponsored)

 

  I’ve loved Dove ever since the day my big brother went off to college, and my sister and I could finally have that soft, creamy bar in our shower rather than the harsh deodorant soap we’d had previously. Ahhh… I loved Dove even more when they rolled out their campaign for real beauty several years back. By that time, I was already mother to one little girl, and I could foresee the challenges I would face as she grew up and was assaulted by the images in media and popular culture. Little did I know that I would add another little girl to the mix a few years later and would, again, fret about what was to come.

Dove is on a mission “to encourage all women and girls to develop a positive relationship with beauty, helping to raise their self-esteem, and thereby enabling them to realize their full potential.”Now, I’ll admit that I have a bit of a visceral reaction to the idea of “building children’s self-esteem” simply because I think that some parents take that idea to mean “act like your kids are awesome even when they’re jerks.” This is not Dove’s intention. As part of their “Let’s Make Girls Unstoppable” campaign, Dove has created a toolkit packed with resources and activities geared toward girls ages eight and older. Girls are encouraged to embrace their unique beauty with workshops, guides, activities, and videos.

 

  • • Over 60% of girls avoid certain activities because they feel bad about their looks. (‘The Real Truth About Beauty – Revisited’ – Dove Global study 2010)
  • • Satisfaction with body image decreases as girls progress to adolescence. While 75% of 8 to 9 year old girls say they like the way they look, only 56% of girls like their appearance by age 12 to 13. (Teens Before Their Time 2000)

 

Facts like that stagger and sadden me. Dove’s campaign emphasizes all sorts of important topics like body changes, feelings, and being safe. One thing I was so happy to see called out was our preoccupation with beauty in media. Not only is the appearance of these “ideal women” unrealistic, it is completely unattainable given how manipulated the images typically are. It is critical that girls (and women!) be aware that these beauty ideals we’re striving toward are an empty goal; there are much better ways to grow and share our beauty. I had the opportunity to download the “Self Esteem Activity Guide for Mothers & Daughters, aged 8-11.” I read through it, and then I set out a couple glasses of lemonade, some simple supplies, and sat down with my older daughter.

 

We talked about what was beautiful. Beauty in nature. Beauty in faces. Beauty in character. Then we did an activity together that seemed so utterly simple, but ending up being so meaningful. Very simply, we made lists. I told C. five things that were awesome about her:

  • She is a fighter.
  • She has amazing navy blue eyes.
  • She has a great laugh.
  • She makes friends easily.
  • She is always kind.

  She told me five things that were awesome about me:

  • I cook good food.
  • I have beautiful green eyes.
  • I let them “do stuff.”
  • I have amazing hair.
  • I take good care of my kids.

That was fun. And encouraging. Also? Easy. Then we turned the tables. I asked her to list five things about herself that were awesome. She struggled. She hemmed and hawed. She made me go first. I listed off five good things about myself and, as I did, I could see her find her confidence. Then she spoke up:

“I like to read a lot. I can dance pretty well. I take care of myself. I have clean hands. I take care of my teeth.”

  And she was proud.Making girls unstoppable isn’t about puffing up their egos artificially. It isn’t about telling them they’re the best at everything under the sun. It’s about helping our daughters stand up to the powerful influences in our culture that undermine their own sense of beauty and self-worth.

  And that’s a campaign I can stand behind.    

*While I completed a mother/daughter activity with my own child, I am eager to download the group youth leader guide as well. I teach church school to this age group and, even at the tender age of eight, I can already see the self-doubt and self-criticism creeping in.

 

 

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