According to a new study released today, over 87% of girls aged between the ages of 10 and 17 in Ireland don’t have high body esteem - one of the highest figures globally.
The in-depth study, conducted by Dove, was initiated to help unearth how young girls see themselves in Ireland and identified that the vast majority experience negative body image issues.
Such feelings can cause young women to miss out on certain activities and major life events, proven by the fact that almost two-thirds of respondents reported not attending a school-related event because of the way they felt about their appearance.
More worryingly, 66% reported not going to a doctor’s appointment because they didn’t feel good about the way they looked.
“As a mother of two daughters, I can see first-hand how a lack of confidence can affect young girls in all aspects of their lives,” says Dove ambassador and presenter Yvonne Connolly. “I was shocked when I first read the stats and found it especially sad to see how it all started at such a young age.”
The findings were released today in conjunction with the launch of the Dove Self-Esteem Project, which aims to reach and support a third of all 11 to 14-year-olds in Ireland by the end of 2021 through a free programme that features evidence-based resources for teachers, parents, mentors, and youth leaders.
Yvonne hopes that the project might decrease the emphasis on looks in Ireland, with around 84% of those who took part in the research saying that they felt there was too much significance placed on beauty in making them happy.
Unsurprisingly, social media also proved to play an impact, with 43% feeling less beautiful when they see photos of their friends online and over half saying that getting likes or comments on social media is important for their self-confidence.
Yvonne’s 15-year-old daughter Ali Keating agrees that there is immense pressure on her generation.
“There is so much pressure on my generation to be perfect, not only from outside influences but from each other too. We need to support each other so we can grow into the confident women we want to be”.
The resources being launched include activity guides and website articles to help parents tackle tough topics like bullying and poor body image and confidence-building workshops for classrooms.
Seven in ten of those who took part in the research reported that they wish schools would teach them how to value each others’ differences and almost seven in ten said that they wish schools would teach them how to feel good in their own bodies.
To gain access to the project's resources visit www.dove.com/uk/dove-self-esteem-project