Contributed By: Chloé LaPorte and Elena Carey
In Girl Connect, our school-based program for girls in grades 3-12, one of our curriculum modules covers ‘Real Beauty.’ The module helps girls explore what the media says is beautiful and identify what they define as beautiful (on the inside and on the outside) for themselves. Typically, the group begins with the facilitator asking girls to brainstorm what a model or celebrity on the cover of a magazine looks like. What is she wearing? What is her hair color? Eye color? Hair texture? How is she posed? What is her body like?
Some of the resources that we use in this curriculum are drawn from the Dove Self-Esteem Project, whose mission is to ensure that the next generation grows up enjoying a positive relationship with the way they look—helping young people raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential. The Dove Self-Esteem Project partnered with leading experts in the fields of psychology, health, and body image to create a program of evidence-based resources, including parenting advice, to help young people form healthy friendships, overcome body image issues, and be their best selves.
After using Dove Self-Esteem Project resources that highlight how women we see in media typically look radically different than they appear in real life, girls in Girl Connect discuss how these unreal images of women affect how women and girls feel about their own bodies.
One GEN facilitator who has used the Dove Self-Esteem Project resources in one of her groups shared that the resources helped catalyze a discussion among the girls about how makeup and Photoshop can really change who a woman is, and they really don’t like that. They thought that people shouldn’t change how they look and should be accepted for who they are. The girls talked about comparing themselves to pictures in the media and how unrealistic that is given the images are often altered. They gave examples from their own life of sisters and mothers who wear makeup and how the girls wish they wouldn’t. They said that they think the women in their lives are beautiful as they are and don’t need to change themselves with makeup.
Then the group did an activity titled “Inside Me/Outside Me,” in which girls write down what makes them beautiful on the outside and the inside. The girl pictured below wrote that on the inside her beautiful qualities include: smart, kind, good friend, nice, helpful.
We are so grateful for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, not only because Dove supported our 2018 We Are Girls Austin Conference, but because the Project provides valuable resources and support for girls and women in helping them feel confident. Dove Self-Esteem project resources serve as a powerful mechanism for catalyzing this important conversation about “real beauty” with girls.