‘Steven Universe’ promotes self-esteem among girls
Dove has recently announced a two-year global partnership with Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe to educate young people on body confidence through the cartoon’s themes of inclusivity and empowerment, world and characters.
This pioneering collaboration is part of the Dove Self-Esteem Project which has been helping young people build self-esteem and body confidence through educational programmes since 2004. The project is based on the knowledge that over half of girls worldwide do not have high body confidence, leading them to avoid spending time with friends and family, put their health at risk, and opt-out of important life events.
The Dove Self-Esteem Project, which exists in 140 countries around the world, is committed to reaching 40 million young people by 2020 through its existing educational programs; and with the help of Steven Universe, will now reach 20 million more.
Using a public health intervention model, the Dove Self-Esteem Project expands beyond structured workshops delivered by adults to taking educational content directly to young people on a scale never-seen before. And in the case of the project’s partnership with Cartoon Network, this will be Steven Universe’s young viewers.
The partnership will come to life in a series of six short animated films directed by Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar, the first of which premiered on April 5. Working with the Dove Self-Esteem Project, all content has been carefully co-created and grounded in scientific evidence by body image expert, Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs of the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England.
Later this year, an original song featuring the cast of the show, an accompanying music video, and an educational eBook will also be launched as part of the Dove Self-Esteem Project’s commitment to create a media landscape for young people that is inclusive by acknowledging every person’s uniqueness and representing true diversity.
“Since 2004, through the Dove Self-Esteem Project, we have been providing young people with the tools and resources they need to develop body confidence and self-esteem so they can fully participate in life and reach their full potential,” said Sophie Galvani, Dove global vice president.
She continued, “We are passionate about evolving the types of messages the next generation are receiving through media, which is why we are working side by side with partners to take the program to the next level. We are introducing new tools to enable us to reach even more young people with content that not only educates but also entertains. By partnering with Cartoon Network and Rebecca Sugar we are able to create new ways to make a real impact towards our mission of helping young people build positive body confidence and self-esteem.”
Research shows that children’s media can be a powerful source of influence on young viewers’ body image and emotional intelligence. Carefully designed inclusive content helps create more positive attitudes and behaviors towards the audience’s health and others.
“Appearance ideals and stereotypes are widespread in children’s media. Studies show that this trend occurs more frequently on screen than in books. Therefore, it is vital to have new content that encourages children to have a positive relationship with the way they look and showcases a diverse and inclusive range of appearances” stated Dr. Diedrichs.
The body image expert added, “The partnership creates content that tackles topics identified in scientific research as key influences on young people’s body confidence, and delivers it in an engaging and fun way.”
Critically acclaimed, Steven Universe is the first animated series on Cartoon Network created by a woman. A global pop culture phenomenon recognized for its overall themes of inclusivity, empathy, and relatability, the show is inspired by Rebecca’s friendship and close relationship with her younger brother Steven.