Saturday, 12 January 2008

Dove Self-Esteem Fund Reality Diaries

Most women today are probably familiar with Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty. You'll probably have seen the images Dove projects of real non-airbrushed women, standing in their underwear on billboards. Real women who really use these products.

Now Dove has gone one step further, setting up its Self-Esteem Fund to help women lead successful and fulfilled lives without their self-esteem being negatively impacted upon by the often unattainable images projected by the media of what beauty is, or should be aspired to by every woman. The Self-Esteem Fund website can be found here, and it's fairly well set out - it clearly states what the fund is, what it does, and it shows you photos, videos (see the bottom of this post for the videos) and press releases relating to the project, as well as logos you can use yourself to promote it if you should feel strongly enough about it.

It also links to the Reality Diaries - the part of the campaign which is used to reach out to young girls themselves, by interviewing young American girls (Sydney, Chelsea, Jordyn and Irene) who are still in high school. It is clearly pitched at girls aged between 11 and 16 - a crucial time for young women today who are trying to avoid being seduced by media perceptions of beauty, as well as more serious and perhaps associated problems such as anorexia.

Each girl has several 5-minute videos (conducted sometimes in interview format, sometimes with the girls filming themselves) available for your viewing pleasure, on a variety of subjects ranging from physical insecurities (such as a dislike of one's nose) to emotional difficulties (such as losing a close family member). The girls speak eloquently and articulately, and although sometimes their speeches are a little cliched, sometimes cliches can make a lot of sense.

The videos are sorted with the most recent appearing first, so if you arrive to find a few videos, be sure to go back to the beginning so as to watch them in order. The girls also each have a blog which they update regularly, and a little section about themselves. There's something in there that every young girl can relate to (and this is reflected in the site colour scheme as well - the predominant colours are brown, blue and white, with only a little pink), whether you're sporty, theatrical, popular, or all three, or none (though all the girls are of similar age), and every girl has something in common - insecurities about her appearance, whether this is reflected in an intense makeup routine, endless trips to the gym, or due to having a different ethnic background to those around them. It is these insecurities that Dove hopes to target through the Reality Diaries, by encouraging the girls to self-reflect and allowing both the girls and the viewers to take something positive from the experience.

The Reality Diaries website also features quizzes, articles, fact sheets and other online activities such as creating your own online magazine. While some of these are advertised using dodgy txt-spk, the activities themselves are comprehensive, fun and thorough, effectively combining fact with gentle encouragement of self-esteem without boosting self-confidence to stratospherically unrealistic levels.

Ultimately, Dove has put together a taut, good-looking website that's jammed with activities and has clear aims and a clear audience. It's an excellent extension of the Campaign for Real Beauty, and the more it's promoted in schools and colleges, the better.

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