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How Dove empowered 60 million young people – and counting


The story behind the Dove Self-Esteem Project, and what’s next for Dove’s mission

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Anxiety about their looks and low body confidence hold far too many girls back from fulfilling their potential. In fact, Dove’s research reveals these factors cause 8 in 10 girls to opt out of seeing friends and loved ones, while 7 in 10 have put their health at risk by skipping meals or not going to the doctor.

It’s a damaging pattern that needs to stop. And it’s why, back in 2004, the brand launched the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP), bringing workshops to young people in schools and social groups, and providing a toolkit of free support materials for teachers and parents.

On a mission to reach millions

For the past 16 years, the DSEP has been on a mission to reach millions of young people to help shatter beauty stereotypes, build body confidence and inspire them to feel empowered and included.

It’s worked with a diverse portfolio of partners to expand its expertise and reach – from UNICEF and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to Cartoon Network and the Centre for Appearance Research. And over 16 years, the DSEP has grown to become the world’s biggest provider of self-esteem education.

Importantly, this work has been proven to make a positive difference. Dove has monitored and measured its impact throughout, with independent studies reporting on the short- and long-term boost in body image and mood that participants feel after joining a workshop or using the DSEP’s online tools.

Since its launch, the DSEP has reached more than 62 million young people across 142 countries. More than 570,000 teachers have delivered a Dove self-esteem workshop, and more than 2.4 million parents and mentors have engaged with DSEP’s content.

But Dove’s not slowing down. This year the brand announced a new commitment: to empower 250 million young people by 2030 through its DSEP education programmes. It means more countries, more creative ways to engage audiences and many more young people feeling confident in their own skin.

Tools to transform attitudes

“We are all bombarded with beauty and appearance ideals from a young age – in the media, from our peers and from our parents telling us we need to look a certain way,” says Stacie June Shelton, Dove’s Global Head of Education and Advocacy.

“Our Dove Self-Esteem Project tools are incredibly transformational, arming young people with protective skills to confidently stand up to these pressures. But we can’t reach them alone. We’d urge anyone with children in their life to share these proven resources, and help more young people feel more confident in their own skin.”

As the DSEP plans for the future, here are some of the milestones it’s achieved since launch.

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