Dove announces 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, conveyed through its world and characters – going directly to them in a medium they know and love, something that has never been done before.
This pioneering collaboration comes from 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 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 exists in 140 countries around the world is committed to reaching 40 million young people by 2020 through its existing educational programmes; and with the help of Steven Universe, will now reach 20 million more, including in Asia Pacific.
Using a public health intervention model, the Dove Self-Esteem Project will expand beyond structured workshops delivered by adults to taking educational content direct 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 to positively impact their self-esteem and body confidence.
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 yesterday in the US and in the Philippines on April 23. 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 at the Center for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, in order to make a meaningful impact on a young person’s self-esteem and body confidence.
Later this year, an original song featuring the cast of the show, an accompanying music video, and an educational eBook will also be launched adding to 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,” says Sophie Galvani, Dove Global Vice President. “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 programme 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, with carefully designed inclusive content creating more positive attitudes and behaviours towards their own 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” states Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs, Body Image Expert. “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 to be 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.
“It has always been important to us that our content resonates with our audience and empowers them,” says Christina Miller, president Cartoon Network. “This partnership is unprecedented in its scale, reach and ambition to make a difference in kids’ lives around the world.”
“Cartoons are a powerful medium when it comes to empathy and understanding, which is why my team and I take great care with Steven Universe to reflect real issues that affect our audience,” says Rebecca. “I’m grateful that I will have access to a plethora of research on body image and mental health thanks to this partnership with the Dove Self-Esteem Project. This is an issue I have struggled with personally and I hope this will be a chance to amplify positive messages about self-awareness and acceptance.