Dove launched its Self-Esteem Project in 2004 to empower and educate young people to build a healthy self-image. In the latest iteration of the project, #DetoxYourFeed, the brand is asking teens to unfollow anything on social media that does not encourage them to feel good about themselves. Dove constructed the project with leading self-esteem expert Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs to provide a four-step guide talking to kids about toxic beauty advice.
The project's data shows that one in two girls say toxic beauty advice on social media causes low self-esteem. It also showed that seven in ten girls felt better after unfollowing toxic beauty advice online. Experts urge adults and mentors to start their own self-reflection in order to set a good example for their kids. In its Confidence Kit, Dove writes, “If you want your child to grow up with high self-esteem and body confidence, there’s a simple thing you can do: Accept and appreciate yourself and your body.”
For another part of the #The DetoxYourFeed project, Dove produced a video that included parents in conversation with their daughters. In the video, the participants are shown a clip of deep fakes where the parents are edited giving toxic beauty advice their daughters might hear online. The reactions from the parents are visceral as they see themselves giving advice to their daughters about cinching their waist, refraining from eating to not appear bloated and getting Botox.
One mother asserts that, “It’s scary to me, that my kids are watching this, and they think this is how they have to look.”
So what can brands do to help change this narrative?
As America’s leading health care solutions company and one of the largest beauty retailers in the country, CVS also considered how beauty standards affect overall health and wellbeing.
“What we’ve seen is that, as an industry, we’re always thinking about the ways our customers interact with the products we offer,” says Andrea Harrison, vice president of merchandising, beauty & personal care at CVS Health. “But we believe that it’s important to understand that customers are also impacted by the messages that we, collectively, send.”
In 2018, CVS pledged to not materially alter the beauty imagery they create. This move, in line with its Beauty Mark Commitment, set out to educate customers about the difference between authentic and digitally altered photos. The company focused on transparency around material alterations in post-production because they understood it could make a positive impact on the mental health issues that data has linked to misleading images.
“Driven by data that connected the propagation of unrealistic body images to negative health effects,” says Harrison. “The CVS Beauty Mark is our pledge to pass on a healthy self-image to the next generation.”
Make a Commitment to Your Customers
Through working on the goals for the CVS Beauty Mark, Harrison has seen that customers are looking for places and brands that support them and what they believe in. She suggests looking to the needs of your customers and creating experiences that uplift them.
“For us, it’s not about chasing an image, it’s about chasing what customers want so we can offer accessible solutions and experiences to meet their needs,” says Harrison. “As a result, we have a proven ability to influence the industry to help our customers make good choices and have a healthier relationship with beauty.”
According to Harrison, CVS wants its beauty aisles to be a place where customers can come to feel good about themselves. They should reflect and celebrate the “authenticity and diversity of the communities” they serve.
Trailblazing a new standard in the beauty industry, CVS saw the impact and importance of changing beauty standards. For Harrison, brands should consider the images they produce–in store and online–and the messages they send. In May 2021, CVS announced that they reached their goal of 100 percent Beauty Mark compliance in their beauty aisles. This meant that all imagery produced by and for CVS is labeled with the CVS Beauty Mark watermark or as “digitally altered.”
“We believe that by embracing the idea that campaign materials can be aspirational, inclusive and unaltered, brands can help contribute to the development of positive self-images among today’s youth,” says Harrison.
Andrew Byrd is a media associate at PRNEWS.