Contributed by: Rosie Molinary and Chaeli Diaz
The Dove Self-Esteem Project supports our 2018 We Are Girls Austin Conference and we couldn’t be more grateful for their intentional, purpose-driven approach to empowering girls and women. We interviewed one of Dove’s educators, Rosie Molinary, about the Dove Self-Esteem Project and her experience educating girls about radical self-acceptance. Rosie was the keynote speaker for the 2018 We Are Girls Austin Conference, where she also led a workshop called Free Being Me. Below is an in-depth interview with Rosie, one of our favorite girl advocates!
Share with us the impact you’ve seen the Dove Self-Esteem Project have in the lives of girls.
What is so special about the Dove Self-Esteem Project is that it actively and powerfully relays a clear lesson about self-esteem, confidence, and self-acceptance in an hour. The lessons are designed in a way to allow a participant to have a lightbulb moment in a quick amount of time and our hope is that insight becomes an empowering foundation for the young people who attend a DSEP workshop. At every workshop that I have been a part of facilitating, I have seen the lightbulb go off in participants’ eyes—a moment where they suddenly realize that they do not have to buy into the myths that we are sold about beauty—and that always inspires me.
What is your favorite Dove Self-Esteem Project activity to lead with girls? Tell us a bit about why you believe the activity/curriculum resonates so deeply with girls.
Every DSEP activity has a powerful takeaway. For example, in the Pot of Gold activity, participants must name something they really appreciate about themselves. As young women, we aren’t often given permission to claim something positive about ourselves, so I love watching participants overcome that social messaging and claim something fabulous about themselves. The curriculum resonates because it is personalized. Every activity is inspired by and rooted in the lives of the participants and the takeaway message is relevant to their own experiences. The curriculum allows each girl to show up without having to make excuses or explain her lived experience and, within that variety, she can find a ray of insight for her own journey.
Was there a girl at the We Are Girls Austin Conference who attended your workshop and walked away feeling more confident? Can you tell us about that experience, and other transformative experiences girls have had while engaging with your work on radical self-acceptance?
I actually had several powerful experiences with the attendees of the We Are Girls Austin Conference. One moment that really moved me was in the final workshop. The girls had been working in small groups to consider the costs of the image myth (those messages we are sent about how we should look and act as women). After drawing silhouettes of a woman’s body, they wrote the societal costs of the image myth outside of the silhouettes and the personal costs of the image myth inside the silhouettes. These lists were so insightful and powerful. After they shared, we wrapped up the workshop and one young woman asked if she could keep her group’s drawing as she wanted to hang it on her wall and never forget that she didn’t want to pay these costs by buying into the myths. It was a moment that took my breath in the most positive, powerful way.
Can you speak to the exemplary quality of the Dove Self-Esteem Project’s educational materials?
The DSEP curriculum is written by experts in psychology, body image, and self-esteem who have proven experience in positively impacting confidence and can powerfully create dynamic, interactive, and insightful lessons that have a big impact in a fixed amount of time. As an educator, I love seeing how active, dynamic, and personalized each lesson is.
Why do you champion self-acceptance?
I fundamentally believe that we are each here on purpose. This world is full of needs. And not one of us is here by accident. We are, each one of us, the living embodiment of a unique solution this world needs. We each have a purpose that is uniquely ours. We each have a solution—or multiple solutions—we are meant to manifest. And our lives are meant to be the realizing, creation of, and expression of those solutions. Yet, too often, our relationship with ourselves gets in the way of our ability to live that purpose.
If we are consumed by our bodies, then we are taking valuable time away from the work we are meant to be doing and the gifts we are meant to be giving to this world, from our purpose. If we are in the mirror, assessing, obsessing, critiquing, despairing, we are not doing the work we are meant to be doing in this broken and aching world that has been waiting for us to step fully into ourselves and our power so we can address the need we are meant to address and bring about the healing we have been called to offer. What are you not doing while looking in the mirror, lamenting your fate? When we get sidetracked, we are taking away from the time and energy we can invest in our purpose and passion.
I champion self-acceptance because it allows people to understand that worth is their birthright (just like it is the birthright of everyone else) and allows them a relationship with themselves that is affirming and not adversarial. Ultimately, I want everyone to understand there is nothing fundamentally wrong with us. We are fundamentally right simply because we exist, because we, just like every other person, have a purpose that is uniquely ours. Worth is our birthright just as it is the birthright of every other person. Ultimately, self-acceptance is choosing to recognize your humanity just as you recognize and respect the humanity of others. When you recognize that, you can go out and offer your gifts to the world.
The world is waiting for us to change because when we change, it can change. To paraphrase Poem for South African Women by June Jordan, we are, each one of us, the ones the world has been waiting for. Our realization of this truth and our ability to embrace it changes everything. We can’t afford for that not to happen.
What is one piece of insight that you would share with your ten-year-old self?
You spend way too much time in your tween and teen years trying to blend in in order to hide what makes you different and the rest of your life trying to show your uniqueness. Don’t worry about blending in. Go ahead and be who you are now.
What is one of the biggest issues that girls are facing today? Are we as a society working to better that experience? If yes, how so? If no, how would you suggest we begin to address this challenge?
There are many issues that we have created as a society that continue to make girls vulnerable. If I had to choose just one issue to focus on, I would say that one thing we can do to better the world for girls is increase their access to education. When we invest in girls and women, whole communities change. There are many organizations, such as the Global Girls Alliance, doing powerful work around educational access and empowerment. I am the board chair of Circle de Luz, a non-profit with a mission to radically empower young Latinas by supporting their transformation through extensive mentoring, holistic programming and scholarship funds for further education. Our work is supported by people around the world. I encourage everyone to find anyway that they can engage in bridging the education gap—whether your support is financial or physical or both- and begin now. Our efforts can truly change the world.