Self-esteem under attack - International experts discuss self-esteem challenges and solutions at first-ever Dove Self-Esteem Summit

    TORONTO, Oct. 1 /CNW/ - Every day, young girls across the country face
overwhelming pressure to conform to a narrow definition of beauty. Today, the
Dove Self-Esteem Fund brought together a venerated group of experts in the
fields of media literacy and self-esteem for the first-ever Self-Esteem Summit
to discuss those pressures and how moms and other female mentors can equip
girls to face them.
    The panelists also helped the Dove Self-Esteem Fund to launch a new
collection of tools and resources created to help positively affect the
self-esteem of girls across the country - including a new web site, new viral
films and a pilot peer mentorship program in a Toronto-area high school.

    The Panel
    The Summit, titled Real Beauty School, was moderated by internationally
acclaimed self-esteem expert - and global ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem
Fund - Jessica Weiner. Jessica Weiner's lifestyle brand with Jess(TM) is
committed to transforming the issue of self-esteem for women and girls

    Joining Weiner on the panel were:
    -   Counsellor and health educator Lisa Naylor, of the Women's Health
        Clinic in Winnipeg.
    -   Debbie Gordon, Managing Director of media literacy organization
    -   Merryl Bear, director of the National Eating Disorder Information
        Centre (NEDIC).

    Today's Reality: The State of Self-Esteem
    Globally, ninety two per cent of young girls and women report wanting to
change some aspect of their appearance.(i) And only two percent of women
describe themselves as beautiful.(ii)
    Summit panelists debated the underlying cause of this image insecurity,
and agreed that a significant contributing factor is the narrow definition of
beauty being perpetuated by mass media.
    According to Debbie Gordon, "So many of the images we see in the media
today are unreal and unhealthy, and that's contributing to an epidemic of low
    And this negative body image is leading girls to withdraw from the world
around them. During the discussion, research was presented from the Dove
Self-Esteem Fund showing that girls with a negative body image are more likely
to withdraw from social events, they're less likely to offer an opinion, and
they're less likely to pursue career or educational opportunities - all
because of how they feel about the way they look.(i)
    All panelists agreed that the issue of low self-esteem among young girls
is a key priority that all concerned parties - including parents and mentors,
media and advertisers, educators and coaches - need to work together to

    Tomorrow's Opportunity: What Moms and Mentors Can Do
    Additional Dove research presented at the Summit showed that mothers and
other female mentors have the most power to influence the self-esteem of young
girls. Together, the panelists presented a list of eight things moms and
mentors can do to bolster the self-esteem of the young girls in their lives

        1.    Model a healthy and balanced approach to appearance, and to
              time spent on beauty routines. Remember that your influence
              extends beyond what you say to what you do.
        2.    Teach skills for communication and conflict resolution so that
              girls will have genuine solutions to personal and relationship
        3.    Build a sense of capacity and well-being in children. Let them
              know that their opinions count, and that they're valued for
              their contribution to their homes, their schools and their
        4.    Engage girls in conversation about the fact that we don't
              actually have infinite control over our bodies. And not only
              that, but that our bodies will resist manipulation through
              dieting and over-exercising in ways we won't always like.
        5.    Be more supportive of other women's diverse beauty, and foster
              that support among the girls in your life.
        6.    Encourage more positive girl-to-girl communication. Unhealthy
              friendships have the potential to have a deeply negative
              influence on self-esteem.
        7.    Help girls navigate the online world. Talk through the
              implications of setting their websites as "public" or of
              posting negative messages about friends or teachers on sites
              like Facebook or MySpace.
        8.    Consume media together with girls in your life. Read magazines
              with them, watch TV with them, look at ads and other commercial
              messages together. Talk to them about the techniques and tools
              used to create the images they see, and the ultimate goal of
              the communication piece.

    The Next Level: New Tools and Resources from the Dove Self-Esteem Fund
    To help foster positive self-esteem among young girls and women on a
broader level, a variety of new tools and resources developed by the Dove
Self-Esteem Fund were also launched at the Summit.
    "At the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, our goal is to positively affect the lives
of 5 million girls worldwide by 2010," said Alison Leung, Marketing Manager,
Dove Canada. "These new tools and resources will help us to achieve that goal
- and to make a difference in the lives of young girls across the country and
around the world."

    The tools include:
    -   A first-ever "Girls Only" self-esteem web site. In this online space,
        girls aged 11-16 can learn about and explore the world of beauty,
        body image and self-esteem in an interactive and inviting
    -   New online activities for "Moms and Mentors" to complete with the
        young girls in their lives. These activities live in a special "Moms
        and Mentors" section of the Dove Self-Esteem Fund website, which also
        contains background information and other resources to help inform
        and equip these important influencers.
    -   A pilot "Girls for Girls Mentor Program", which is being launched
        this year at Henry Street High School in Whitby, Ontario. This
        program pairs older and younger students together to discuss issues
        of self-esteem.
    -   Also, launching November 1, the Dove Self-Esteem Fund will introduce
        new online Tools for Teachers designed to help facilitate in-class
        discussion around the Dove Self-Esteem Fund online videos.

    To raise awareness of both the Fund and of these new resources, Dove also
unveiled today two new online videos. These videos will continue to do the
work started by the groundbreaking Evolution: provoke debate and discussion on
the topics of body image, beauty pressures, and self-esteem. The videos are
titled Onslaught and Amy.
    All tools and resources, including the new online videos, can be viewed

    (i) The Dove Self-Esteem Fund commissioned the Beyond Stereotypes study
    to address the need for global literature and insights into factors
    influencing self-esteem and self-expression in women. Research firm
    StrategyOne conducted the research, in collaboration with Dr. Nancy
    Etcoff of Harvard University, with the expert consultation of Dr. Susie
    Orbach of the London School of Economics. The study is based on
    quantitative data collected from a global survey of 3,300 women (ages 15
    - 64) in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Germany,
    Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

    (ii) Dove commissioned the Real Truth About Beauty Study in response to a
    gap identified by a comprehensive review of global literature for
    research or insights of this kind. Research firm StrategyOne conducted
    the research, in collaboration with Dr. Nancy Etcoff and the
    Massachusetts General Hospital/ Harvard University, and with the expert
    consultation of Dr. Susie Orbach of the London School of Economics. The
    study is based on quantitative data collected from a global survey of
    3,200 women from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan,
    Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom and the United States.

For further information:

For further information: Harbinger, Maggie Waymark, (416) 960-5100 x263,

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