The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, commissioned by Dove in 2016, revealed that, worldwide, when girls don't feel good about the way they look:
• 8 in 10 opt out of important life activities, such as engaging with friends or loved ones
• 7 in 10 stop themselves eating or put their health at risk in other ways
• 7 in 10 have not been assertive in their opinion or stuck to their decision.
Perhaps all this is unsurprising when 70% believe media and advertising set unrealistic standards of beauty.
When girls hold themselves back because of the way they think they look, they miss out – and society misses out, too. Studies in Finland, China and the US show that girls who think they're overweight, irrespective of their actual weight, have lower grades. The negative impact of low confidence continues later in life, with 17% of women claiming they won’t go to a job interview and 8% missing work when they feel bad about their appearance.
Dove believes beauty should be a source of confidence, not worry. We want a world free of appearance-related anxiety so young people can grow up as confident and active members of society.
Recognising low body confidence
What are the signs of low body confidence and negative body image? A young person might seem overly focused on weight or body shape. They may complain about features such as their skin colour, or seem generally upset about their looks. You might have heard them talking about bullies at school or obsessing over images of celebrities with impossibly long limbs and Photoshopped bodies – beauty standards that are impossible to achieve.
You might think of these pressures as part of growing up – and some of them are. But when a young person doesn’t feel good about themselves, they aren’t reaching their full potential.
The fight against low self-esteem starts here
There's plenty we can do to boost young people’s self-esteem and body confidence.
We’re committed to helping girls everywhere fulfil their potential, so we’ve partnered with leading researchers and experts in the fields of psychology, health and body image to provide confidence-building tips, resources and activities. These will help you explore issues and solutions around body image and self-esteem with the young people in your life.
If you’re a teacher, check out our Dove Self-Esteem Project workshop materials, or if you lead a youth group, we’ve got specially designed resources for youth leaders. For parents, we have articles and activities to help you understand the key issues and tackle low body confidence. And if you’re an aunt, grandparent or just someone who cares about a young person, try our Mindful Me activity guide for a mindful approach to fight low self-esteem.
You'll also find answers to your questions on body confidence and low self-esteem in our frequently asked questions.
The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report. Commissioned by Dove, 2016 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