Girlguiding and Dove join forces for young people’s safety online

What it was like to speak at the launch event for our campaign with Dove

Katie, advocate
03 July 2023

Content warning: this blog post contains references to disordered eating.

From a young age, girls say they don’t feel happy with how they look and can feel embarrassed and ashamed of their appearance.

They experience intense appearance pressures and tell us that they are held back from doing everyday things they’d like to do because of a fear that people will criticise their bodies and appearance.

Our Girls’ Attitudes Survey shows 2 in 5 girls and young women aged 11-21 feel more insecure and less confident about themselves after seeing images on online, and 8 in 10 have considered changing how they look.

At Girlguiding, we believe more should be done to protect young people from body image harms online – and 94% of girls and young women aged 11-21 agree. That’s why we’re partnering with Dove on their campaign to make social media safer for young people.

In April, Katie and 2 other advocates spoke at a launch event for Dove’s campaign for #KidsOnlineSafety. Here’s Katie’s story of her experience at the campaign launch event:

'9 in 10 kids are exposed to toxic beauty content on social media. As a result, this harmful content is impacting the mental health of 1 in 2 kids. 

'These are some of the statistics that Dove have found as part of their Self-Esteem Project, showing just how important this campaign is.

'On April, 3 members of the Girlguiding advocate panel, myself, Ellan, and Jiya travelled to London to speak at the campaign launch. For me the journey took about 3 hours by train, this meant I had some time to prepare (and have a nap!) before meeting everyone at the venue.

'When it was show time, we took our seats in front of the stage waiting to be called up. Before our chat with Candice, there was an immersive experience which was incredible to watch. There were screens on every wall with so much to listen to and look at – it meant you felt right in the middle of the video, showing how we’re constantly surrounded by toxic beauty content online. This then led into a video about what the campaign was and why it was needed.

'We then got called onto the stage. This is where I started to get nervous because we were sitting on a stage looking out to a large room packed with people. To speak at such a large event is really scary, but we had lots of rehearsals before the actual event. And I wasn’t alone - Ellan and Jiya were there too which made me feel a lot better. We spoke with Candice Brathwaite, who is a mental health advocate and author.

'The conversation addressed 3 main topics: our experiences with appearance pressures and toxic beauty content online, how this has affected us offline, and how Girlguiding has helped us in dealing with these pressures.

'We introduced ourselves and Candice asked us questions, like when we first started to use social media. For us it was around 11-13 years old. We then talked about the effects social media has had on us offline, such as pressures to look like we do with filters on, and to maintain the appearance we put out on social media.

'Most of these experiences were around how we interact with friends, school, and appearance pressures and how social media can impact girls’ mental health. Finally, we talked about how Girlguiding has helped us and why it’s such a positive environment.

'After our chat with Candice, a panel of experts took the stage to discuss how social media impacts mental health. Afterwards, musician Self Esteem performed - we watched and danced, and it was a great end to an amazing event!'

Together with Dove, Global Action Plan, 5Rights Foundation and Parenting Mental Health, Girlguiding is raising awareness of the toxic beauty content affecting young people's mental health. We’re asking social media to be made safer by design.

Add your name to the petition to make social media safer.

If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s health, or have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this blog post, you can find help through some of the organisations listed here:

  • Beat: Contact the UK’s eating disorder charity on 0808 801 0677 or on their website.
  • Shout: Text SHOUT to 85258 for free, confidential mental health support, 24/7.