Beauty-related anxiety is a big problem, and is recognized as an important issue by young people all around the world. Australian girls say that body image is one of their top three worries in life. One in three 6-year-olds in Japan experiences low body confidence. 81% of 10-year-old girls in the U.S. are afraid of being fat. And more than 110,000 girls in Brazil underwent cosmetic surgery in 2009.
When girls hold themselves back because of the way they think they look, society misses out. A global study commissioned by Dove revealed that six out of 10 girls opt out of important activities because they’re worried about the way they look. Studies in Finland, China, and the U.S. show that girls’ relationship with the way they look has an impact on their academic performance: girls who think they are overweight, regardless of their actual weight, have lower grades. And the negative impact of low body confidence continues later in life, with 17% of women claiming they won’t go to a job interview and 8% missing work on days when they feel bad about the way they look.
Dove believes beauty should be a source of confidence, not anxiety. We want to see a world free of appearance-related anxiety so that girls can grow up to be confident and active members of society.
So, what are the signs of low body confidence and negative body image? You might have noticed a girl has an overt focus on weight or body shape. She may complain about features such as her skin color or seem generally upset about her looks. Maybe you heard her talking about bullies at school or noticed her obsessing over celebrities with impossibly long limbs and Photoshopped bodies— beauty standards that are impossible to achieve.
It may be tempting to believe these pressures are just a natural part of growing up—and some of it is. But when a girl doesn’t feel good about herself, she isn’t reaching her full potential.
The silver lining in all this is that there is plenty we can do to boost self-esteem and body confidence for girls in this age group.
We’re committed to helping girls everywhere reach their full potential, so we’ve partnered with the leading researchers and experts in the fields of adolescence and self-esteem to provide tips, resources, and activities. These will help you better connect with the girls in your life on the issues of body image, self-esteem, and beyond.
So, if you’re a teacher, check out our world-class Dove Self-Esteem Project workshop materials; or if you lead a local youth group, we’ve got specially designed resources for youth leaders as well. For parents we’ve got plenty of articles and activities to help you understand the key issues and tackle low body confidence. And if you’re an aunt or grandparent, or just someone who cares about a girl, why not try our Mindful Me activity guide for a mindful approach to boosting self-esteem.
For any other questions you have on body confidence and self-esteem, try viewing our frequently asked questions.
The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited. Global review commissioned by Dove, 2010
Incorrect Body-image In Children And Its Relationship To Body Weight, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 2007
Media Images, Body Dissatisfaction, And Disordered Eating In Adolescent Women, The American Journal Of Maternal Child Nursing, 2003
On Norms And Bodies: Findings From Field Research On Cosmetic Surgery In Rio De Janeiro, Reproductive Health Matters, 2010
Beyond Stereotypes: Rebuilding The Foundations Of Beauty Beliefs, First Dove Global Study, 2006
Costing The Invisible, University of the West of England, 2014
The Construction of the Self: A Developmental Perspective
The Real Truth about Beauty: Revisited
Article date: 28 June 2013
Review date: 28 June 2014
Growing up and body image
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