Young people are deeply impacted by on-screen images; what they see shapes their relationship with their bodies and their feelings about their own beauty. Low body confidence causes eight out of 10 girls to opt out of important activities, like participating in class discussions; and 7 out of 10 stop themselves from eating or otherwise put their health at risk in order to look a certain way. Young people today report feeling anxious about their appearance more often than about career prospects or money.[1] The resulting low body confidence and beauty anxieties keep them from being their best selves, affecting their mental and physical health, friendships, and even performance at school.

For over 15 years, the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) has helped more than 35 million young people across the globe to develop a positive relationship with the way they look. It has opened the door to more constructive conversations around these issues, helping to address some of the causes of low confidence and self-esteem by going into schools and starting the conversation with young people, and raising further awareness through the creation of online tools which adults can use to guide the way they talk to the young people in their lives.

This year, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has taken the next step and joined forces with ATTN: to present Girls Room; a new five-episode series from Emmy-award winning writer, producer and actor Lena Waithe. Girls Room tackles the pain and power of female adolescence through the eyes of a group of 5 girls as they face the challenges of growing up in today’s social media world. The short films are designed to reach girls in the same ways that they’re connecting already– peer-to-peer and digitally-fueled through the content they’re consuming on their phones.

“Understanding the ways in which young people consume media today is critically important – and that is why Dove has partnered with organisations, media entities and personalities who create hyper relevant content in a tone of voice that is authentic and speaks to directly to young people. Together with Lena Waithe and ATTN, we want to help shape a world where the next generation grows up to enjoy a positive relationship with the way they look, empowered to reach their full potential”, said Sphelele Mjadu, Senior Public Relations Manager for Unilever Beauty and Personal Care for Africa

The series is based around those moments spent in bathrooms – the ‘Girls Room’. This is a space, where we assess ourselves, experiment with our appearance and maybe even judgeour sense of self. It is also a place of vulnerability, where we come face to face with ourselves and our insecurities – the mirror, the comparisons, the scale. The series follows each character from the school bathroom back home to their own bathrooms where they confront barriers to self-esteem which teen girls are facing every day – from the pressures of social media, teasing and bullying to dealing with what they see in the reflection. The content is based on the Dove Self-Esteem Project’s academically validated research into body image and was co-created with academic experts from the Centre of Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, to ensure educational impact – and is it then brought to life by the voice of Lena Waithe. Girls Room is produced by Dove, Unilever Entertainment, and ATTN: in partnership with Hillman Grad, Lena Waithe’s production company, and is directed by Tiffany Johnson. BBH, a leading creative agency, co-created the idea for the series and serve as Executive Producers.

“Growing up can be such a discordant experience – you can spend one moment feeling like you can conquer the world and the next full of self-doubt throughout this journey to define who you are every day,” said Lena Waithe. “Girls are facing very real issues that influence how they see themselves in the world, but what I hope comes through in Girls Room is that we have the power to lift each up and encourage one another to feel freedom in being ourselves.”

The Dove Self-Esteem Project launched in South Africa in 2014 and has become the biggest provider of self-esteem education of its kind. To date, the program has reached almost 700,000 girls with a goal of 1 million young people in South Africa with self-esteem education by 2020.

Girls Room uses a public mental health intervention framework to expand Dove’s education programming by leveraging mainstream entertainment to tackle low body confidence on a broader scale. Girls Room was directed and produced specifically with the mobile-first, vertical viewing habits of today’s young audiences in mind. Under the creative guidance of director Tiffany Johnson.

“Appearance ideals, pressures and stereotypes are widespread on social media. Studies show that the more time adolescent girls spend on social media the more likely they are to be dissatisfied with their bodies, especially when it comes to posting selfies, seeking validation through comments and likes, and comparing themselves to other people’s highlight reels. We need to disrupt the social media landscape with content that encourages girls to accept and respect their bodies and showcases a diverse and inclusive range of appearances” states Professor Phillippa Diedrichs, body image expert at the world-leading Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England. “Girls Room addresses key influences on girls’ body confidence that have been identified in scientific research in an engaging and relevant way.”

“As the world’s largest provider of self-esteem education, for over 15 years the Dove Self-Esteem Project has helped 60 million young people build the confidence they need to reach their full potential with academically proven tools – but we know there’s more to be done,” said Sophie Galvani, Global Dove Vice President. “As well as educating girls through our existing schools programmes we are now driving even greater impact by producing 5 short films that both entertain and help girls in a relatable way – not only in the format and delivery, but also in the setting and scenarios. By setting the series in the bathroom, otherwise known as the ‘Girls Room’, we showcase a key space in female development where young girls chat, interact with their friends, see themselves in the mirror and weigh themselves. It is where our body confidence can be made or broken.”

Tune-in to ATTN:’s IGTV to watch Girls Room and visit Dove.com/selfesteem to download free educational tools to start a discussion with a girl in your life.

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