Sadly, Statistics show that 9 out of 10 girls want to change at least one thing about their physical appearance. Unfortunately because of social media, women and girls are bombarded with unrealistic expectations of what she “should” look like – causing her to compare and compete with other women and girls. That’s why Vlogger and host of MTV’s Decoded, Franchesca Ramsey partnered with Dove to deliver self-esteem education to young people to help them build positive self-esteem and reach their full potential. Here she dishes on what we can do to build a generation of women with healthy self-esteems.
ESSENCE.com: In your opinion, what causes beauty anxieties within the African American community?
Ramsey: I think society perpetuates a lot of mixed messages about what it means to be beautiful for all women, but especially for black women and women of color. We get a lot of conflicting messages, whether it’s you grow up being told that having big lips are ugly, but now big lips are suddenly sexy and in, but they are really only championed when we see them on while celebrities.
ESSENCE.com: How should parents and mentors and even other family members can just talk to young girls about self esteem. Where do we begin?
Ramsey: I think one of the easiest things to do, [is change] how we talk about ourselves. I think so many of us have gotten really comfortable saying negative self deplicating things about ourselves. I think that as friends and family, we really have to step in when we hear the people in our lives that we care about [say negative things]. We should really reframe their thinking.
ESSENCE.com: Even if we’re doing that, where do we go from there?
Ramsey: I think it is a multi-layered issue. I think it is easier said than done. They have confidence, but I do think that when we encourage each other to definitely speak about ourselves in a more productive way and also to focus our energy and attention on things that are a little bit more substantial, because appearance is not everything. Self esteem doesn’t have to just be about the way you look, it can be about your talents and passions. All of those things can build someones confidence and show them that they have self worth and they are important. I really think that its about teaching young girls that they are more than just what they look like. But, that’s really just the first step, it is a daily process that we all need to work on.
ESSENCE.com: How do we motivate others to think that way about themselves?
Ramsey: I think leading by example is one of those things that is the first step. And, it doesn’t have to be completely superficial. It can be “You have such a great laugh.” Those are the types of things that you can share with someone that can go a long way in helping to make someone feel good, or feel more positive about themselves.
ESSENCE.com: What would you tell your younger self about beauty and self-esteem?
Ramsey: I would say “don’t compare yourself to anyone else.” I think even before social media it was really hard to not look at other classmates and say, “Well I wish I looked like her.” Or even to look at celebrities and wish that “I looked like them.” I realized that I missed out on a lot of things because I was afraid of what I looked like or I was afraid that people would judge me, or that I wouldn’t fit in with the people that I was wanting to spend time with. In retrospect, that was really silly.
ESSENCE.com: Tell me about your role in The Dove Self Esteem Project. What are you looking to achieve in the partnership?
Ramsey: To kick off the self esteem project, we had a workshop with neighborhood girls from the Boys and Girls Club and Girl Scouts of America where we talked to them about the importance of acting and thinking and speaking beautiful. It was a really wonderful workshop where the girls got to put together these little inspiration boards of ways that they were going to think, speak and act beautiful. I presented the Act Beautiful portion where I talked about the ways that we can put our words themselves into action, so that we can do things to make ourselves feel good and our communities feel good. I talked about complimenting people, volunteering, speaking up for yourself or someone that you care about. The importance for standing up for each other, and that is something that we can do that can help other people feel good as well.