According to Dove, eight in 10 girls who dislike their physical appearance avoid social interaction or classroom participation to keep from having to do things such as voice their own opinions. Today’s youth are subject to navigate a round-the-clock pop culture, social media cycle that can negatively impact their self-love. Leading experts now believe that spending just an hour discussing confidence, self esteem and what defines beauty can make a world of difference in the way a young girl might see herself. Dascha Polanco couldn’t agree more.
Orange is the New Black actor and body positive advocate, Polanco teamed up with Dove’s Self-Esteem Project for International Women’s Day to mentor young girls from East Harlem’s Boys & Girls Club. In the framework of #HourWithHer, a workshop curriculum that promotes confidence-building, Polanco spoke with middle school and high school girls on the politics of mainstream beauty, and engaged hands-on activities that stimulated self-love and dialogue surrounding bully culture. “I am confident, but I have days that I struggle,” she admitted, holding court inside New York City’s Lightbox.
“It was always lizard lips, bubble butt, big lips, and oh, my god, you’re so fat — there was so many negative things to say about my weight,” Dascha shared with the room.
Before a sea of nodding heads now listening intently, she continued: “The first time I used the bathroom in front of my friend, she asked me why my stomach was so big. I never realized something was wrong with me until someone else brought it to my attention, and that plays tricks on you.”
Part of the workshop called for each girl and their respective mentors to hark back to a time she was made to feel small or ugly, and rewrite her own story using her personal definition of beauty. “Vulnerability allows us to reach places we haven’t. It’s not a weakness, it’s your strength,” Polanco affirmed, while making her rounds alongside Global Dove Self-Esteem Ambassador, Jess Weiner and Dove Self- Esteem Educator, Dre Brown.
“This is something that I believe in and that I experience. If we can impact 20 million young girls to be able to have a better relationship with themselves, than we can make a more powerful tomorrow. That’s something that was missing when I was growing up. I didn’t have the ability to converse with someone that would take this whole initiative to be able to talk about what I really felt and the decisions I made because I didn’t love myself — always basing [love] on acceptance and external factors. It doesn’t have to be that way,” Polanco said when asked how she felt about participating in such a campaign.
On International Women’s Day, women and other mentors are invited to spend an #HourWithHer, helping young girls to reach their fullest potential and redefine themselves by embracing their personal beauty, develop self-confidence and reclaim their own power. How, you ask? By using tools like the free, accredited curriculum now accessible on Dove.com.