Today is International Day of the Girl and I think it is fitting that we promise to empower our girls and build on their self-esteem.
The following press release revealed that -
47% of 11-14 year old girls are opting out of everyday activities such as swimming and speaking up in class because they don’t like how they look*. The findings are revealed by the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) on the eve on International Day of the Girl and come as the DSEP announces a partnership with Girlguiding that aims to boost low self-esteem through a body confidence workshop and badge.
Dove UK Research: Summary of Key Findings
What 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 the pressure to look beautiful
- 8 (7%)*
- 9 (11.4%)*
- 10 (23%)*
- 11 (27%)*
With nearly half of girls (46%)* feeling the pressure to look beautiful, which starts as young as 8 years old*, DSEP and Girlguiding want to ensure that girls feel empowered so that they have the confidence that they need to realise their full potential.
The body confidence badge is set to reach more than 400,000 UK girls and 3.5 million girls globally. The purpose of the badge is to educate girls on the importance of self-esteem whilst providing them with a badge that they can wear with pride.
In my opinion, children find it much harder to grow up these days as they are expected to fit in with every situation and sometimes very difficult issues like low self esteem, bullying, effect of media play an important role in shaping our children.
I am often at wits end when I am unsure of how to react to my daughter. She is almost 9 but I find her ideas and opinions, not to mention her attitude, are much like a teenager.
I know I should be able to handle her as I am of the same gender but you see this is my first experience as a mother and I don’t want to do the wrong thing.
My niece at 12 is also very close to me and confides in me and I find myself sometimes worrying about whether I am giving the right advice. Life is never just black and white. It is made up of a myriad of colours and while this adds to the diversity, it also adds to the confusion.
There are many issues that I find difficult as sometimes I don’t where where to start. When you are a mother or an aunt even, it is sometimes very hard to be objective.
The Dove project is excellent for this and I was amazed at the issues it touched on -all relevant today, in such a simplistic yet decisive manner.
When I signed up for the DSEP project, I expected it to be another site that lectured parents and children on the burning issues of today. When I told my niece about the project and asked her to go through it with me, she told me in no uncertain terms that she didn’t want to go through a boring site which told children things she already knew but since she is so fond of me, she agreed to at least take a peek.
I visited the site before her and took a quick glance through knowing if it was boring, she was not going to sit through it with me at all but on doing a quick check of things, I knew she would be fine with reading at least some of the articles with me.
What is the project about? The DOVE Self-Esteem Project is about improving the self esteem of 15 million girls and women by 2015. A tall order indeed as self esteem is built on many factors. To raise a confident girl, you need to act with love and firmness, with understanding and with control and always be there to support her.
The DESP deals with a few areas namely
- friends and relationships
- growing up and body image
- boosting self esteem and
- role of media
How the website works is to have a few articles and also a few videos that help to make a visual impact. One does not easily forget what someone sees so I quite like the video bit in it.
I like how there are action checklists to guide one through instances. For example the checklist about relationships -watch her channels, read through her magazines, share her music. I was pretty glad to be doing all this with her and even with my niece, there was a lot I knew about her already.
I like the little games on the site in particular ‘why I’m brilliant ‘and ‘flawless’. It helps to show that every person is unique and everything is not about body parts. The website however, does not allow one to indulge or justify being overweight. It recommends and touches on topics such as exercise but does so in a positive manner.
Here is a video on cracking compliments that I found quite relevant to my daughter and niece as they are both very conscious about physical appearances.
In my role previously as a teacher, I came across many girls between the ages of 11 – 14 who did not want to join in with others in many activities because they felt they were overweight, different or just didn’t fit in. I had explained to them that they needed to learn how to deal with these low self esteem ideas as everyone is different.
I know from where this is coming as I was very self conscious when I was around 10 -11 as I was quite plump. I also didn’t like people laughing at me if I did the wrong thing and that is why I was quite reticent in school and class.
I somehow overcame this when I was voted in to be a member of the school council and overnight I had the confidence to be an active member of school.
We read quite a lot of the articles on the DSEP website together (my niece and my daughter too). I would say that a lot of the articles are relevant to even older girls/women who suffer from low self esteem. All the areas covered are relevant to women of today. More than boys, girls are vulnerable to seeing themselves as lacking in many areas such as body image and relationships. Being self conscious leads to many of them missing out on activities and opportunities.
I am not saying that the DSEP will restore confidence immediately and you will become a star in your class. The DSEP website will help and encourage a child to reach their full potential and in that empower women. It does so in a friendly, non invasive way and will definitely have a positive impact on anyone who visits it.
I will be running a few more stories about the DSEP and the issues it raises so please come back and visit my blog.
The partnership between DSEP and Girlguiding is being announced on International Day of the Girl to highlight how low body confidence is an issue specifically affecting British Girls. A variety of activities to highlight the issue of girls missing out will take place at the Southbank Centre in London throughout the day including speed mentoring sessions in the London Eye, self-esteem workshops and talks from inspirational women, including Mumsnet founder Carrie Longton.
A ‘Missing Out’ art installation on the Riverside Terrace at the Southbank Centre has also been created by the DSEP and the Southbank Centre to draw attention to the impact of low self-esteem in young girls. From the 9th-13th of October, passers-by will be able to obtain information about the project, whilst reading statistics that highlight how many girls have missed out on activities. People will also be encouraged to share their own ‘missing out’ stories by writing their stories and messages of inspiration directly onto the installation.
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I received a Highstreet voucher in return for an honest review.