Health & hygiene

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

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  4. Building body confidence and self-esteem

Building body confidence and self-esteem

Dove believes beauty should be for everyone and is inspiring millions of women and girls around the world to be confident in their beautiful selves.

Woman holding sign about self-esteem

Body confidence affects self-confidence

Women and girls around the world are more anxious about their bodies than ever. And when they lose confidence in their bodies, many lose confidence in themselves.

Half the women we spoke to – and seven in ten girls – said they have failed to be assertive or stick to a decision as a result of not feeling good about the way they look.1 This can have a profound effect on their lives, their careers, their futures – and their health.

Eight in ten girls opt out of important life activities, such as trying out for a team or joining a club at school, if they don’t feel good about the way they look. It could even mean that they don’t want to hang out with their friends.

Seven in ten girls stop themselves from eating when they are worried about their appearance or otherwise put their health at risk by not seeing a doctor. For adult women, it’s a whopping nine in ten.

We want to create a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. Dove, our leading personal care brand, is helping women and girls realize their own beauty potential, be confident in their own bodies and build their self-esteem. Dove has believed that beauty should be a source of confidence for 60 years, and recommitted this in 2017 by renewing its vows to women everywhere.

A group of women

The Dove Real Beauty Pledge

Dove celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017 by renewing its vows to women everywhere.

Vow 1: We always feature real women, never models

We believe beauty is for everyone. Models reflect a narrow view of beauty. Instead, we feature real women introduced by their real names – of all different ages, sizes, ethnicities, and hair colours, types or styles.

Vow 2: We portray women as they are in real life

Flawless images of ‘perfect’ beauty are retouched and manipulated to present an unachievable appearance. The women you see in Dove ads are never digitally distorted. And they have approval of the images before they are used.

Vow 3: We help girls build body confidence and self-esteem

Dove is on a mission to ensure the next generation of women grows up feeling positive about the way they look.

A group of children

Boosting body confidence and self-esteem

No young person should be held back from reaching their full potential. Since 2004, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has helped 29 million young people build self-esteem and positive body confidence through our educational programmes. In 2017 we reached 5.8 million young people - our biggest reach in a single year to date and a 37% increase from 2016. Our ambition is to help 40 million young people by 2020.

The Dove Self-Esteem Project offers confidence building workshops for classrooms and educational activities for mentors and youth leaders. We work with world renowned body image experts and leading universities to develop evidence based educational tools that have a proven positive tangible impact on young people’s self-esteem.

Our guides for teachers called Confident Me, for parents called Uniquely Me and youth leaders True to Me help them get young people talking about body image and build their self-confidence. The titles may vary, but the theme of all our guides is the same. Everyone should grow up feeling confident about their looks. The positive impact of our school self-esteem programmes has been proven by academic studies.2 Other resources include activity guides and online articles that help parents tackle tough topics like bullying and poor body image.

We’re also working with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) to get the message across to more young women. Our Free Being Me programme has reached 4 million girls in over 125 countries since 2013 and we’re aiming to reach 6.5 million by 2020.

In 2017 we developed a new badge programme called Action on Body Confidence, which intends to help give every girl a voice. The new advocacy skills developed will allow girls to make their passion heard, allowing them to act as a life changer in smaller communities and reach even more girls.

In 2017, Dove and members of WAGGGS went to the UN to help girls raise their voice and speak out about body image issues that they feel passionate about. Girl Guide delegates – 20 delegates from 15 different countries aged 18-25 – spoke to world leaders about what they have learned about body image in their own country - and the impact they have seen it have on their peers and community.

The delegates requested for education on body confidence and self-esteem to be provided to more young people, and for the issue to be addressed in each of their countries.

Dove Day for thought leaders

Every year, Dove Day catalyses our employees’ efforts to help boost self-esteem among young people. In 2017, for the first time, we ran a Dove Day workshop and panel event – at which Paul Polman, our CEO, spoke – for thought leaders, industry and body image experts, and influential thinkers.

At the event, we launched our 2017 Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence Report – our first global study on girls’ self-esteem and body confidence. Our aim was to raise awareness amongst these influential groups of people about the extent of girls’ low body confidence – and how Dove is tackling the issue through our Dove Self-esteem Project. Those attending were invited to see the Dove Self-esteem Project in action at a London school.

Getting back to reality

Seven in ten women and girls believe media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can’t ever achieve.

Around 40% of women don’t relate at all to those they see in advertising. And 80% wish the media did a better job portraying realistic and diverse body image.3

Our message is simple: Beauty is for everyone. We believe that beauty should be a source of confidence and not anxiety.

Dove is at the forefront of our efforts to #Unstereotype advertising across our Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, Foods & Refreshment brands. And we want more businesses to follow our lead.

In the UK, one in four people suffer anxiety about body image, with a recent study showing 55% of young people have been bullied about the way they look. We co-founded the national Be Real campaign for body confidence in 2014 with the YMCA and the UK Government, calling on brands to better reflect what people really look like. It encourages people to vote with their shopping baskets by choosing brands that promote body confidence.

Real beauty, real business benefits

Celebrating real beauty isn’t just building body confidence. It’s building our business too. Dove is our largest Beauty & Personal Care brand and it continued to grow in 2017.

Ads with progressive portrayals of people are 25% more effective. People connect with them better and talk about them more. That means a stronger impact for our brand.

When women learn about Dove’s Self-Esteem Project, their perception of Dove shifts and they’re more likely to buy our products. There’s a direct link between awareness of the project and brand equity.4 Women are 15% more likely to purchase Dove products – and in some markets, this is even higher. For example, in the US and India5, the proportion of women likely to purchase Dove products increased by 21% and 7% respectively, when they are made aware of the impact of the Dove Self-Esteem Project.

Self-esteem: not just for girls

It’s not just girls and women who are affected by low self-esteem. Men are too.

Over half of men have been told that a real man should behave in a certain way.6 That kind of pressure can lead to bullying, depression and suicide.

We’re tackling ‘toxic’ portrayals of masculinity to help liberate men to be themselves and feel good about it. A new campaign from our male grooming brand Axe asks, ‘Is it OK for guys?’.

This is part of our broader efforts to #Unstereotype advertising and change harmful social norms across our brands.

1Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report (PDF | 2MB) (2017), based on responses from more than 10,500 girls and women aged 10-64 in 13 markets.

2 Behaviour Research and Therapy Journal (2015).

3Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report (PDF | 2MB) (2017), based on responses from more than 10,500 girls and women aged 10-64 in 13 markets.

4 Millward Brown Dove Masterbrand Dove Self-esteem Project Analysis, September 2016, [Base: Women aged 24-54, USA (758), UK (400), Brazil (643), China (399), India (632)].

5 Millward Brown Dove Masterbrand Dove Self-esteem Project Analysis, September 2016, [Base: Women aged 24-54, USA (758), UK (400), Brazil (643), China (399), India (632)].

6 Promundo and Axe: The Man Box – a Study on Being a Young Man in the US, UK and Mexico, 2017. 3500 men surveyed.

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