Pressure to Look Perfect Drives Girls to Destructive Behavior

Dove(R) and Hollywood Team Up to Give Girls a Reality Check About What Goes

on Behind-the-Scenes

Oct 02, 2007, 01:00 ET from Dove

    GREENWICH, Conn., Oct. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Girls today are fixating on
 their flaws, causing them to belittle themselves and even take destructive
 action. The onslaught of messages and images they constantly receive sets
 an unrealistic standard of beauty. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is
 partnering with the entertainment industry to address this issue by giving
 girls a reality check educating them about what images are real versus
 Hollywood magic. This global program is especially relevant as girls today
 are measuring themselves against impossible beauty ideals.
     The new campaign was developed to help girls realize what they see in
 movies and magazines represents an unrealistic standard of beauty, not an
 everyday achievable look. As part of its commitment to build self-esteem in
 girls, the Dove Self-Esteem Fund is sponsoring self-esteem building
 workshops with inspirational celebrities and new online tools in an effort
 to educate moms, mentors and girls. The program also features "Onslaught,"
 an attention- grabbing viral film that dramatizes the barrage of images and
 messages girls constantly face. As with all Dove Campaigns, the impetus for
 the program is grounded in startling new research about the factors that
 influence girls' body image.
     Girls Fixate on Flaws, Self-Esteem Suffers
     According to a recent survey conducted by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund and
 Seventeen magazine, more than four in 10 girls and young women only see
 their flaws when they look in the mirror. This is not surprising
 considering more than half of girls and young women say they get ideas for
 the way they want their bodies to look from celebrities and media, and 56
 percent of girls and young women believe celebrities tend to have perfect
     "Girls are increasingly looking to celebrities as their role models
 because they are widely celebrated in media and society," commented Ann
 Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and distinguished scholar for
 the Partnership for Women's Health at Columbia University. "Girls take away
 the message that these images represent a societal norm, and as a result
 punish themselves for not living up to impossible beauty ideals. The cycle
 continues to intensify as these perceived flawless images further inundate
 their world in overwhelming quantities."
     Images Surround Girls
     Girls are being besieged with all types of media in nearly every corner
 of their lives:
     *  The average person sees between 400 and 600 advertisements per day(1) -
        equivalent to more than one message for every waking minute.
     *  The average US girl has the opportunity to see an estimated 77,546
        commercials by the time she is 12 years old.(2)
     This growing phenomenon is having a direct impact on girls' self-image
 and even causing some to engage in destructive behavior. The Dove
 Self-Esteem Fund/Seventeen Body Image Survey also revealed:
     *  93 percent of girls and young women report feeling anxiety or stress
        about some aspect of their looks when getting ready in the morning
        *  This could explain why more than 70 percent of girls and young women
           avoid activities when they feel bad about their looks including
           giving their opinion, attending school and even going to the
     *  76 percent of girls and young women admit to partaking in unhealthy
        activities when they feel badly about their bodies
        *  58 percent of girls describe themselves in negative terms, including
           words like "disgusting" and "ugly," when feeling badly about
        *  Nearly four out of 10 engage in unhealthy eating behaviors, such as
           anorexia or bulimia.
        *  More than one out of 10 girls has used cutting or self-inflicted
           injury as a coping mechanism.
     "Girls today are exposed to more messages from Hollywood and the media
 than past generations which can impact their self-esteem," said Jessica
 Weiner, self-esteem expert and global ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem
 Fund. "Mothers, mentors and friends can help change girls' perceptions with
 positive, self-esteem building discussions and activities."
     Hollywood Takes Action
     The Dove Self-Esteem Fund is partnering with Step Up Women's Network, a
 national non-profit membership organization dedicated to strengthening
 community resources for women and girls, to help girls recognize their own
 unique beauty. Together, they will conduct self-esteem building workshops
 giving girls a reality check to distinguish what is real versus Hollywood
 magic and hopefully inspiring girls to think about their beauty role models
 in a new way.
     During these events, celebrities and self-esteem experts reveal secrets
 about the armies of stylists, makeup artists, photographers, and staging
 and computer technicians behind-the-scenes who produce the big screen and
 cover shots. Jessica Weiner will lead each session and offer advice about
 interpreting the multitude of messages. Notable female celebrities are
 volunteering their time with the Dove Self-Esteem Fund to speak with girls
 and share their personal perspectives.
     "We all have a responsibility as marketers, educators, mentors and role
 models, to change the way we communicate with girls. The entertainment
 industry can be a powerful partner in educating girls," said Kathy O'Brien,
 marketing director for Dove. "We may not be able to decrease the number of
 messages girls receive, but we can educate girls about how they perceive
     The Dove Self-Esteem Fund set a new goal to reach 5 million girls
 globally by 2010 with self-esteem building programming. It has several
 online resources that educate girls about Hollywood and media imagery as
 well as foster the development of self-esteem. Moms, mentors and girls
 should visit to utilize new self-esteem building
 tools, view behind-the-scenes footage from the Dove Self-Esteem Fund/Step
 Up workshops, talk to experts and watch "Onslaught." Visitors will also
 soon have the opportunity to get an inside look at how real girls deal with
 self-esteem issues in their daily lives.
     About the Dove Self-Esteem Fund/Seventeen Body Image Survey
     StrategyOne, an applied-research consulting firm, conducted a
 nationally representative online survey among 1,014 girls and women ages
 13-22 in the US to better understand the factors that impact their body
 image. The survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent
 at the 95 percent confidence level, was conducted using the online field
 services of Harris Interactive. Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D. (Harvard University)
 and Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D. (Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute), Dove
 Self-Esteem Fund Advisors, provided expert guidance on the study.
     About Campaign for Real Beauty
     The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is a global effort that is intended
 to serve as a starting point for societal change and act as a catalyst for
 widening the definition and discussion of beauty. The campaign was created
 in 2004 after the brand commissioned a global study that found that only
 two percent of women around the world describe themselves as beautiful.
 Employing various communication vehicles - advertising, a Web site,
 billboards, events and a Self-Esteem Fund - the campaign invites women to
 join in the discussion about beauty and share their views of it with women
 around the world. Women's response to the campaign has been overwhelmingly
 positive; nearly 4 million visitors have joined the conversation at
     About Dove
     The Dove mission is to make women feel more beautiful every day by
 challenging today's stereotypical view of beauty and inspiring women to
 take great care of themselves. Dove, manufactured by Unilever, is the No. 1
 personal wash brand nationwide. One in every three households uses a Dove
 product, which includes beauty bars, body washes, face care, anti-
 perspirant/deodorants, hair care and styling aids. Dove is available
 nationwide in food, drug and mass outlet stores.
     About Unilever
     Unilever (NYSE:   UL, UN), one of the world's largest consumer products
 companies, aims to add vitality to life by meeting everyday needs for
 nutrition, hygiene and personal care. Each day, around the world, consumers
 make 160 million decisions to purchase Unilever products. The company has a
 portfolio of brands that make people feel good, look good and get more out
 of life.
     In the United States these brands include recognized names such as:
 Axe, "all," Ben & Jerry's, Bertolli, Breyers, Caress, Country Crock,
 Degree, Dove personal care products, Hellmann's, Knorr, Lipton, Popsicle,
 Promise, Q-Tips, Skippy, Slim-Fast, Snuggle, Suave, Sunsilk and Vaseline.
 All of the preceding brand names are registered trademarks of the Unilever
 Group of Companies. Dedicated to serving consumers and the communities
 where we live, work and play, Unilever in the United States employs
 approximately 13,000 people in more than 60 office and manufacturing sites
 in 24 states and Puerto Rico - generating nearly $10 billion in sales in
 2006. For more information, visit
     About Step Up Women's Network
     Step Up Women's Network is a national nonprofit membership organization
 comprised of women who are dedicated to strengthening resources for women
 and girls. Through teen empowerment programs, professional mentorship,
 women's health activities and social networking opportunities, Step Up
 educates and activates its members to ensure that women and girls have the
 tools they need to create a better future. Step up offers various programs
 that aim to give girls the skills and confidence they need to succeed in
 their future. The organization's motto is "Invest, Involve and Inspire."
     Randi Liodice/Edelman
     Stacie Bright/Unilever
     (1) Dittrich, L. "About-Face facts on the MEDIA." Accessed June 2005.
     (2) The Nielsen Company, September 2007
     (3) Beyond Stereotypes: Rebuilding the Foundation of Beauty Beliefs, A
 Global Report, 2005