The Toxic Effects of Beauty Standards

By Maggie Staszcuk

Since 2004, it’s been Dove’s mission to reach millions of young people and “shatter beauty stereotypes, build body confidence, and inspire youth to feel empowered and included.”1 This initiative is known as the global Dove Self Esteem Project, and it’s working.  

The Dove Self Esteem Project is the world’s largest provider of self-esteem education, as evidenced by its partnerships with nationally and internationally recognized brands like UNICEF, Girl Scouts of the USA, and Cartoon Network. Since launching the project, Dove has reached more than 62 million people across 142 countries. In 2020, Dove announced its new commitment to empower 250 million young people by 2030 through its education programs.  

In addition to its goal of eliminating toxic beauty standards and empowering youth, the Dove Self Esteem Project also announced its plans to address the rise in youth mental health issues linked to social media with the Campaign for Kids Online Safety. The brand recently conducted a survey of youth, parents, members of the general population, and youth mental health specialists, which revealed that social media is fueling a mental health crisis, resulting in toxic beauty standards and damaging self-esteem .3 

Some key findings from Dove’s survey show: 

  • 52% of girls report social media causing low self-esteem. 
  • 9 in 10 girls report following at least one social media account that makes them feel less beautiful. 
  • 56% of girls report believing they can’t live up to beauty standards projected on social media. 
  • 80% of young people believe people their age are addicted to social media.  

Dove is not alone in its efforts to eliminate toxic beauty standards. Slowly, these detrimental ideals are being challenged by more people, companies, and entities with the hope of empowering people to love the skin they’re in. You can show your support by: 

  • Sharing or posting about National Acne Positivity Day, September 1, 2023. 
  • Use the hashtags #FreeThePimple or #SkinPositivity 
  • Learning more about the Love Your Body campaign  

Esty TalkLooking for more great content on the Dove Self Esteem Project and toxic beauty standards?

ASCP's Esty Talk episode 199, Research Reveals the Effects of Toxic Beauty Standards, discusses whether the skin care industry can help people achieve better skin without promoting unattainable beauty standards.

Check out ASCP Esty Talk or subscribe to the podcast in the Apple Podcast Store, Google Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you access your favorite podcasts.




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