Generation Next

Beyond Skin Deep

By Lori Hutzler Eckert 

When a teenage girl looks into a mirror, it is likely that she will see everything she believes she is not instead of all she truly is.

In today’s celebrity-saturated culture, young girls’ role models often are the two-dimensional starlets who flaunt their Photoshopped perfectionism across the slick pages of entertainment magazines. The 12-and-up set have quickly learned to play the game of comparison, destined to fall short in their own adolescent minds.

But one company is committed to making a change in the media; ironically, it is a global beauty brand. Dove, maker of the tried-and-true bar soap designed for women, is putting a different face on what real beauty is.

Four years ago, the company founded its “Campaign for Real Beauty,” using “normal-looking” women in its advertisements, in an attempt to challenge stereotypes and spark debates. The concept worked. In fact, the campaign has grown to also focus on improving the self-esteem and body image of young girls.

“The existing narrow definition of beauty is not only unrealistic and unattainable, but clearly it also creates hang-ups that can lead girls to question their own beauty,” said Philippe Harousseau, U.S. marketing director for Dove. “It’s time to free the next generation from these stereotypes and give girls the tools they need to discover their own definition of beauty.”

Dove – which has committed to reaching more than a million young people by 2008 with its outreach program – has developed several efforts to help girls, including specially targeted ads, online chats with self-esteem experts, and partnerships in promoting Self Esteem Week.

One great tool parents can use is the Mother and Daughter Kit at The kit includes a self-esteem quiz, an interactive calendar, and ideas for communication between teen girls and their parents.

Campaigning to help girls grow into strong, confident women – now that’s a beautiful thing.