Moms are the primary individuals whom children and teens look up to in their early years. It's important that moms learn to set the bar when it comes to building self-esteem and a positive outlook.
Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho
How to teach body positivity among Filipina teens to boost their confidence
Gerald Dizon (Philstar.com) - December 3, 2019 - 1:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — As Filipinos, we know how social media has given rise to ideas and stories that can influence our perception of the world, even more so of ourselves. However, it is not always in the most encouraging way.

The youth, especially teenage girls—impressionable as they are—are prone to this. In a Dove study released at a recent event, it was revealed that over half of the world’s girls have low self-esteem.

This puts 7 in 10 at risk of health issues such as eating disorders. Another 7 in 10 are not confident enough to assert their opinions.

“Problematic” posts due to inaccurate claims on health, unattainable standards of beauty, and reinforced unrealistic expectations on what an ideal body should be—all of these led Filipina teens to second guess themselves, become anxious, and worse, relent to all of these unhealthy notions of girl- and womanhood.

This must be changed.

Steering the conversation into a more positive light, Dove has pioneered the Dove Self Esteem Project. Since 2004, it has aimed to help young people all over the world develop a positive relationship with the way they look, thereby raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential.

Mom experts Janice Villanueva and Gabby Limjoco, delivered Dove Girl Talk to initiate a conversation on girl- and selfhood.
Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho

This year, in celebration of the International Day of the Girl, Dove held a forum aptly dubbed Girl Talk. It aimed to initiate a conversation on selfhood—from perception to potential, and everything else in between.

Here are some of the things we learned, which we hope you can learn as well, from the forum:

1. Start in the home

Growing teens should be getting the best counsel as they develop their sense of “self.” There is, of course, no better place for this than the home. As a living space with family, it should be a sanctuary where they should be free to express themselves, and freer to ask questions about their bodies that are still going through significant changes.

“As a mom, you want to guide your kids, but being careful of how you say things without hurting them—without being so critical—it’s trying to be aware of the words I say,” shared Gabby Limjoco, mom and guest speaker.

She is the founding partner and director of Play Works Early Childhood Center, a playschool for early childhood development.

The makings of a healthy self-esteem starts at home and while they are young.
Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho

2. Shut down stereotypes

Filipino false notions of ideal appearance should have no place among family and friends. The maputi is maganda or straight hair is better than kulot, as examples, should be extinguished from our collective beauty repertoire.

“In general, Filipinos should stop commenting on physical traits when bantering as if it’s a form of affection. Be tactful especially with kids. It’s just opening the conversation and helping them to know that there are other things to highlight that isn’t skin color, weight, the texture of hair. Open conversations on other things” said Limjoco in an exclusive interview with Philstar.com.

She was echoed by co-guest speaker and fellow mom Janice Villanueva, who is also a parenting advocate, teacher, mom-preneur, and founder of Mommy Mundo. 

3. Set examples, relatable conversations

Since parents, teachers and caregivers are the primary individuals whom children and teens look up to in their early years, they should themselves learn to set the bar when it comes to building self-esteem and a positive outlook.

“When we make comments about ourselves and others, I’m sure they pick up on that. It’s also about pushing our children to try new things, so we have to step up on our game because they really watch us. Open up about yourself, and then make it a teaching moment. Let them know that it’s okay to come to you for anything, that they won’t always be met with anger or disapproval,” said Villanueva.

Dove speakers, along with other participants, during the Girl Talk event.
Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho

4. Encourage social media literacy

It has been said time and again that not everything is what it seems, and this is truest about what teens see online. Since it seems counterproductive to ban teens from going online, an effective way around it is to strengthen social media literacy.

Teach teens about “healthy skepticism” so that they gauge and discern truths from falsehoods, stave off anxieties through a smarter and more nuanced approach.

A reliable resource

When it comes to teaching young teens about body positivity and building self-esteem, parents, teachers, and primary caregivers need all the help they can get.

Encourage media literacy in the home.
Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho

That’s why the Dove Self Esteem Projects (DSEP) has all the resources online to guide them every step of the way. Since its establishment, DSEP has reached more than 20 million young people across 139 countries. Its ambition is to touch 20 million more lives by the end of 2020, with 2 million expected to come from the Philippines.

Together with global education experts, all DSEP modules have guided discussions and engaging exercises that cover topics such as Learning to Love Yourself, Body Talk, Media Literacy, Bullying, and Teasing at Home.

 

To download the modules and learn more about the project, visit dove.com/selfesteem.

DOVE DOVE SELF ESTEEM PROJECT
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