This past Sunday was International Women’s Day, and in celebrating that all women are uniquely fabulous, YouTube launched a project aimed at encouraging teenage girls to “recognize their strengths, embrace their passions and imperfections, and realize that when the going gets tough, it doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever.” Dubbed #DearMe, the campaign features women sharing messages they wish they could pass along to younger versions of themselves.
In the weeks leading up to International Women’s day, millions of people have participated in the campaign, sharing empowering messages and advice. It’s been encouraging to see messages from people of all walks of life, including Michelle Obama.
The #DearMe campaign is the latest in a trend of campaigns that are successfully using social media to engage people (and women in particular) in important conversations about self-esteem, confidence, and acceptance. Just last month, I wrote a blog post about the #LikeAGirl campaign, which aimed to empower young girls and encourage them to take pride in who they are.
Long before either of these campaigns started making waves (all the way back in 2004!), Dove launched the Real Beauty campaign, which has continued to grow and take new forms over the past decade. The success of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign on social media is clear: the 2013 goose bumps inducing ad, “Real Beauty Sketches,” is the most watched ad of all time.
Brands and companies that can successfully leverage outlets like Twitter and Instagram, which are particularly popular among teenage girls, are finding themselves ahead of the game. The simple fact that women of all types paused to take time to participate in the #DearMe campaign, suggests that YouTube is on to something. There’s a need for these messages—both a need to send them and to receive them.
In health communications, it’s easy to focus on physical health. Know your numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, healthy weight), eat healthy foods, and get enough exercise. We often focus on diseases and conditions and how to share important information with those afflicted and affected by those diseases and conditions. But an equally important aspect of health is good mental health and that includes having a positive body image, good self-esteem, and the confidence to know that you are fabulous regardless of your age, gender, race, weight, sexual orientation, IQ, level of education (you see where I’m going here…).
As a health communicator it is my duty to keep passing along this message. I was moved to tears by Graham Moore’s speech at the Oscar’s when he won for Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Imitation Game”: “…for that kid out there that feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she’s doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes you do. I promise, you do. Stay weird. Stay different. And when it’s your turn, and you’re standing on this stage, please pass this message to the next kid who comes along.” Health communicators, this is our stage. Now is the time for us to pass along this message to the next kid.