Girls on Beauty: New Dove Research Finds Low Beauty Confidence Driving 8 in 10 Girls to Opt Out of Future Opportunities

Thursday, October 5, 2017 General News
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LONDON, October 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --

  • More than half of 10-17-year-old girls around the
    world do not have high body esteem
  • Girls with higher body esteem have higher life satisfaction, confidence and are therefore putting themselves forward more often for opportunities.  
  • Girls are now calling for
    change: 7 in 10 girls think there is too much importance placed on beauty as a source of happiness
  • Dove is running self-esteem programmes to help 40 million young people tackle low self-esteem issues and reach their full potential 

More than half of all girls (54%) do not have high body esteem and are missing out on key opportunities in life says a new global report released today by Dove.  

The 2017 Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence Report, which interviewed 5,165 girls aged 10-17 across 14 countries, also found that higher levels of body esteem have a lasting impact on a girl's confidence, resilience and life satisfaction. The most academic report Dove has done to-date, the findings show that a girl with low body esteem is more likely to succumb to beauty and appearance pressures, and will withdraw from fundamental life-building activities.

Globally, 5 in 10 girls (55%) will not spend time with friends and family, participate in activities outside the house, or try out for a team or club if they aren't happy with the way they look. This number significantly increases to 8 in 10 (80%) for girls with low body esteem, but actually drops to 4 in 10 (41%) for girls with high body esteem.

"These findings indicate that, despite valiant efforts, body image remains a global issue for girls," says Phillippa Diedrichs, Associate Professor from the Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England. "We still have an enormous amount of work to do in helping girls develop the resilience they need to overcome the impact of beauty and appearance pressures. We also need to change the social and cultural environment so that girls are not judged on their looks, and are not held back from getting a seat at whatever table they want - be it in the boardroom or in parliament - because of body image concerns."

While girls show increasing awareness of the media's role in driving unattainable beauty ideals, only those with high body esteem seem equipped to respond to these pressures, with 8 in 10 (78%) saying they think they are beautiful even if they are different from what they see in the media. This is compared to only 1 in 10 (12%) girls with low body esteem.

However, the research also uncovered pockets of hope, with 7 in 10 (70%) girls saying there is too much importance on beauty as a source of happiness, and 7 in 10 (68%) saying they wish the media did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness, age, ethnicity, shape and size.

And girls are using social media as a platform to confidently express their individuality, with half (51%) saying they feel more confident interacting with people online.

"Girls worldwide are harnessing the power of social media to democratise the beauty narrative whether we are a part of it or not," says Jess Weiner, Cultural Expert and Adjunct Professor at University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School of Journalism. "They are forming their own online communities to talk about the issues that matter most to their physical and emotional health, and flooding the space with their diverse stories and images - they are becoming the subject of their own stories and not the object of someone else's."

The report also encouragingly shows that 8 in 10 (82%) girls think they have something about them that is beautiful, and nearly all (80%) feel more confident after taking time to do things that make them feel happy about themselves, their bodies and their health, such as reading or exercising.

"It is hopeful to see girls are aware and taking their own steps to create change, but they can't do it alone," says Sophie Galvani, Global Vice President, Dove Masterbrand. "Our research shows that a girl aged 17 is more likely to experience lower happiness and life satisfaction than a 10-year-old. This is a crucial moment in a girl's life where proactive intervention and support is needed, and that is exactly what the Dove Self-Esteem Project is designed to do - its evidence based tools, interventions and workshops are proven to help build positive body confidence in young people, and ultimately help the next generation reach their full potential in life."

Dove has long used real women in all its advertising and marketing campaigns- a commitment they reaffirmed this year with the Dove Real Beauty Pledge. Since its launch in 2004, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has already helped over 20 million young people build positive body confidence and self-esteem, and plans to reach another 20 million by 2020.  The full global report will be released on Dove Day, an annual event in celebration of International Day of the Girl, where Unilever employees and partners volunteer time to deliver self-esteem workshops to boys and girls in their local communities. Schools and youth groups can also download and use the free tools year-round by going to  



Survey Methodology 

The research used in the report was conducted by Edelman Intelligence, a specialist applied research firm based in London.

In total, Edelman Intelligence interviewed 5,165 girls aged 10-17 across 14 countries: India, the US, UK, Brazil, China, Japan, Turkey, Canada, Germany, Russia, Mexico, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia.

These countries were selected in order to adequately represent the diversity of girls in terms of culture, beliefs, social pressure and economic development as well as a fair representation of the diversity of culture and tradition around beauty.  The sample was broadly representative of girls population in each country in terms of age, region and social grade.

All respondents answered a 15-minute survey of 30 questions. All markets excluding India and South Africa were asked these questions via an online quantitative survey.  Interviews in India and South Africa were conducted face to face in order to get a national representation of the market due to their low online penetration in the market.

All interviews were conducted in each market's local languages. To ensure the cultural robustness of this research, we ensured the translations in local languages were accurate and the wording was comprehensible for the younger girls interviewed. Thus, each translation has been conducted and reviewed by two different translation experts, native to each country and piloted amongst younger girls to ensure the questions were clear to them.

The study also hosts a number of tested, historical, academic scaled questions which ensured a level of understanding which is unprecedented and new to the industry. These questions looked to unlock girls body confidence, levels of self-esteem and appreciation for their own body.

About Dove   

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, body mists, hair care, styling aids and Dove® Men+Care™, developed specially for men.  Dove® is available nationwide in food, drug and mass outlet stores.

About the Dove Self-Esteem Project  

Dove has a long-standing commitment to creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, and not anxiety. The Dove Self-Esteem Project (2004), helps the women of tomorrow develop a positive relationship with the way they look, raise their self-esteem and realise their full potential.

So far, we've reached the lives of more than 20 million young people across 138 countries, making the Dove Self-Esteem Project one of the largest providers of body confidence education in the world.

About Unilever 

Unilever is one of the world's leading suppliers of Food, Home Care, Personal Care and Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. It has 169,000 employees and generated sales of €52.7 billion in 2016. Over half (57%) of the company's footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has more than 400 brands found in homes all over the world, including Persil, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Hellmann's, Lipton, Wall's, PG Tips, Ben & Jerry's, Magnum and Lynx.

Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan underpins the company's strategy and commits to:

  • Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.
  • Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030
  • Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.

The USLP creates value by driving growth and trust, eliminating costs and reducing risks. The company's sustainable living brands are growing 50% faster than the rest of the business and delivered more than 60% of the company's growth in 2016.

Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index, it achieved the highest environmental score of 5. It led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2017 GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey for the seventh year running. Unilever has pledged to become carbon positive in its operations by 2030. For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit For more information on the USLP:


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