Dove Self Esteem Campaign Highlighting the Danger of Teens and Social Media


Dove’s Commitment to Protecting Children’s Mental Health and Self-Esteem

Content Warning: This article includes mentions of eating disorders.

The recently launched “Dove Self-Esteem Project” aims to highlight the detrimental effects of social media on youth mental health. The brand’s research shows 8 out of every 10 youth mental health specialists now say toxic social media is a leading factor in exacerbating a mental health crisis among children.

As part of this comprehensive campaign, Dove has released a poignant three-minute short film titled “Cost of Beauty.” The Olgivy production sheds light on the real-life story of a “Mary” as we watch her journey from childhood to her teen years and, ultimately, spurred on by the negative impact of social media influencers, her struggle with an eating disorder.

A Call to Action

Recognizing the need for action, the Dove Self-Esteem Project, which states “social media is harming the mental health of 3 in 5 kids” has launched the Campaign for Kids Online Safety (#KidsOnlineSafety).

This powerful initiative is aimed at addressing the rise in mental health issues and the profound consequences that excessive exposure to unrealistic beauty standards can have on the well-being of children and teenagers influenced by social media and addictive algorithms.

Chief Marketing Officer for Dove, Alessandro Manfredi, explains, “Dove has a long-term commitment to bring about positive change in beauty and taking action towards making social media a more positive place with campaigns like, #NoDigitalDistortion, Reverse Selfie/Selfie Talk, and #DetoxYourFeed.

While certain aspects of social media can promote creativity and connection for young people, data has shown toxic beauty content online is harming our kids’ mental health. If there isn’t real change, young people will continue to pay with their wellbeing.”

Dove’s latest initiative, in collaboration with renowned musician Lizzo, Common Sense Media, and ParentsTogether Action, advocates for the implementation of the 2023 Kids Online Safety Act. KOSA aims to establish standards, safeguards, and tools to help protect children’s online experiences and limit their exposure to toxic beauty content and pushes for legislative change to make social media safer for children.

Eating Disorder Awareness and Early Intervention

While acknowledging the need to bring eating disorder awareness into the mainstream view through ground-breaking advertising campaigns like Dove’s, Fiona Yassin, Clinical Director and Founder of The Wave Clinic, sheds light on an important aspect that is often overlooked in the media.

Yassin, who specializes in treating eating disorders, emphasizes that not all eating disorders manifest in the same way. The focus on severe cases often portrayed in the media can inadvertently discourage tweens, teens and young adults from seeking help until their condition becomes severe, believing they are “not sick enough.” 

Paradoxically, this mindset can lead to an escalation in their eating disorder behaviors, as it’s possible they mistakenly believe interventions will only occur if and when they are at the point of hospitalization. However, this misconception is far from the truth.

The key message Yassin seeks to convey is the significance of recognizing the small signs and symptoms of an eating disorder. Often, when the most noticeable and severe manifestations become apparent, the disorder is already deeply entrenched. By paying attention to subtle changes in behavior, emotions, and attitudes towards food and body image, individuals and their caregivers have a much better chance of identifying the early stages of an eating disorder and seeking support. 

Yassin stresses the importance of early intervention—before it progresses to the danger zone— and urges seeking help as soon as possible, as it significantly improves the chances of a full recovery and long-term prognosis.

While the Dove campaign, which is fully committed to protecting children’s self-esteem, inclusivity and mental well-being, serves as a valuable conversation opener, it is crucial to recognize that not all eating disorders manifest in the same way and to heed Yassin’s insights of encouraging early intervention. 

Getting Help 

If you or someone you care about is suffering from an eating disorder, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. The Wave Clinic specializes in the treatment of all eating disorders and is here to guide you through every step of your recovery journey. Contact us to learn more.

You can learn more about Dove’s commitment to social media change and kids’ online safety campaigns here.

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

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