Dove shocks in this powerful film about toxic content for teenage girls online

Dove shocks in this powerful film about toxic content for teenage girls online

Dove has gone and done it again.

I'm in tears before lunch and all because of Dove (and Ogilvy's) latest piece of research and consequential campaign to help raise girls' self esteem.

1 in 2 girls say idealised beauty advice on social media results in low self esteem. 1 in 2. Half. I'm not surprised but I am disappointed that, despite all the hard work to help with young people's self esteem, it's hard to cut through the damaging nature of what children can access online.*

*To clarify, not everything online is bad. A lot is very, very good but this film speaks to the fact that a lot of young people have access to damaging content that parent's aren't aware of, and this is what I'm commenting on.

Teens in the US are spending increasing amounts of time on social media and the new Dove Self-Esteem Project research proves this to be true.

The film that Dove and Ogilvy have created (which is, to be fair, yet another piece of relevant and effective creative from the brand) will raise, from deep within any parent, a fear of growing magnitude.

The truth is that although the parents are surprised, the girls have seen most of it before—on their own social feeds.

The normalisation of this toxic content is a clear and present danger to parents, and Dove exposes how it is all wrapped up in an innocent-looking bow—a friendly looking lady and a believable voice. Through the smile she suggests to your daughter that she files her teeth with a nail file if they're uneven.

The insidious nature of it is underhand, knowingly damaging and it appears, currently, to be unstoppable.


What Dove, and a huge credits list, has done is remind us of this and make us talk about it which is, after all, all we can do right now.

This sly narrative, that seems to seamlessly infiltrate what young girls are looking at, is everywhere.

The film urges parents to become their daughter's greatest influencer. 

A reminder that the power does still, in the end, lay in our hands and we must talk to our girls and help them listen to their own voices.

The film begins fairly innocuously.

It has a 'regular', general feel about it. The women are relaxed and chatting with the producers, getting ready in their seats, smiling with their daughters. One mother says how her daughter is not yet influenced much by social media. A daughter says that the impact of her social feed is generally positive. Everyone nods happily, safe in the knowledge that their life is in order and all is well.

Then they show the film.

It's a horror movie for any parent.

The silence is palpable. The paralysed expressions of the mothers (and daughters) lay bare in disbelief, shock and a few tears—a powerful three and half minutes. 

What really cuts deep is how they used deepfake technology make it look and sound like these words were coming straight out of their own mother's mouths. Dove illustrates the point without saying it and believe me, as a parent, I heard it loud and clear. What better way to show the impact and influence these deceptive words can have on a young mind than to put them into the mouths of those they trust?

It follows a number of brilliantly effective campaigns from this same team, and it is because of that reputation that this lands a punch that I am unlikely to forget.

Highly awarded campaign Reverse Selfie was another horrifyingly good piece of work that illustrated, in front of our very eyes, the dark nature of social media for young people.

Dove has been dedicated to 'real beauty' since 2004 so it's the authentic place this message comes from means it carries so much further. 

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