Tag Archives: body confidence

The Power of Likes on My Sense of Self

As I eat my breakfast in the morning I give Facebook a cursory read, then I don’t check it again until after dinner. I don’t care who likes or shares a post or picture, I use it to keep up with faraway friends and family.  I post pictures on Instagram and forget about them. I’m not in it for the likes but for the filters that make the photographs of an amateur look great.

In a bid to get under the skin of our teenage girls I’ve spent today immersed in the world of social media. And ith as been hard!

I’ve spent a lot of the day responding to the beeps of my phone calling me. I expected texts and emails but instead I found Facebook posts, comments and likes, as well as Twitter reposts and favourites. These constant interruptions are an annoyance, but not as much of an annoyance as discovering I’d not got nearly as many likes or reposts as I’d have liked!

Out of 400 FB friends only 5 of them could be bothered to like my carefully structured, taken and posted selfie.

At one point I looked at the clock and it was 11.40am. I’d done nothing for almost four hours but faff about on Facebook, witter nonsense on Twitter and strive to take the perfect pic for Instagram that I could then repost on both Facebook and Twitter.

While WhatsApp pings pierced the quiet far too often – I don’t care if you’re drinking coffee in a hipster café in London just like my pic!!

“19% of girls aged between 13-23 say they have kept checking their account for likes, as a result of not getting enough likes for a photo.” Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP)

I’ve realised I don’t like these popping up pings. They drive me nuts and make me anxious as I wait for the next one. They invade my real life forcing me to stop in the middle of writing an important letter, pause the news, put down my coffee and pick up my phone because I cannot ignore the call of the ping.

I know now why I keep my notifications turned off – I like to be in control of when I see who has posted or responded online.

“The average girl takes 9 photos before putting one picture online and 69% of girls with low body confidence avoid posting photos of themselves if they don’t like how they look.” DSEP

When I’m not at work I don’t wear make-up but today to keep up with the picture ready teens I invested half an hour of my precious at home time making up my face and doing my hair. After all that work I spent God knows how long finding the best place in the living room to get the best light for my selfie shots. Turns out in front of the window with the sun streaming in on me was just right.

“The average UK girl receives 24 likes on a photo. In fact, they would prefer 5 times this number to feel validated.” DSEP

I posted a couple of these pictures on Instagram this morning, so far they’ve got only four and three likes and it’s 3.45 in the afternoon.

I put five selfies on Facebook at around the same time with the hope that I’d at least get 24 likes. I watched the notifications desperately all day. In an hour they’d got between 3-5 likes each. By lunchtime I was feeling quite inadequate as the likes grew to a mere six apiece with the same people liking every photograph.

What’s wrong with my pictures? Why don’t more people like them? Why is it always the same people who like them?

By 4pm this afternoon I remained disheartened. My selfies hadn’t managed to get anywhere near the 24 likes I wanted: one got seven, another nine, and one managed 11, with the other two receiving just 14 and 20 likes respectively. And all of them managed to raise just one slightly different comment on each one but from the same mad auntie who comments on everything I put on online.

I feel quite despondent this evening. One comment? Nine likes? What did I do wrong? Why don’t people like my selfies? What is wrong with me?

I’d no idea how the power of likes could impact upon my sense of self.

50% of girls say they are using social networks ‘all the time’.” DSEP

I’m a grown woman, nearly a middle-aged woman who should know better but those likes are like a drug dragging me in, feeding the feelings of inadequacies we all have, amplifying them and negatively changing how I see myself.

If I’d got 50 likes today I know I’d be feeling something akin to euphoria tonight. As it was my rather low likes dropped a black cloud of despondency over my head making me feel old and inadequate, making me consider how I view myself – am I actually looking as good as I think I am?

This exercise has left me with more questions (about myself) than answers. But the one answer it has given me is that is hard to be a teenage girl in a world where social media rules everything. When I was at school all I had to deal with were the ‘mean girls’ but I left them behind as soon as I went home.

Nowadays girls are always switched onto the contrariness of the likes and comments of other teenagers. It cannot be good for their self-esteem or their mental health. It definitely wasn’t good for mine.

“24% of 13-23 year olds have said they would rather receive 50 likes than a hug.” DSEP

The #NoLikesNeeded campaign was launched by Dove at the Women in the World Summit in London on 8 and 9 October to encourage girls to realise the only like that counts is their own.

The Dove Self-Esteem Project is the global sponsor of Women in the World and the exclusive sponsor of the new girl-focused platform ‘Generation Girl’.

Together their ambition is to help inspire and encourage young women and girls to recognise their potential, pursue excellence and be undeniable by showcasing real role models for real girls.


Parents, teachers, mentors, etc., can download educational tools carefully prepared by the Dove Self Esteem Project. The tools are designed to help boost self-esteem and increase body confidence in young people. You can download yours at www.selfesteem.dove.com

Here are some quick tips from Dove on how to talk to your daughter about navigating social media and the negative feelings it may bring:

  • Talk about how easy it is to become ‘addicted’ to checking for updates on likes and how things can change.
  • Have a conversation about the reality of people’s lives compared to what’s posted online. Explore the difference between ‘edited highlights’ and real day to day life.
  • Do other people in the family spend a lot of time online and on digital devices? It might be helpful to include them in these discussions.
  • Create a home social media agreement that all family members sign.


Disclaimer – This is a “sponsored post”. The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only write about products or services I believe my readers will be interested in.


The Room Exhaled as The Body Image Myth Smashed at their Feet


body image myth - the lies we're told that make us feel bad about ourselves

I think the above list startlingly sums up not just what our daughters have to contend with on a daily basis but everything that’s wrong with how women are portrayed in the movies, on TV, in magazines and newspapers and on social media – a Body Image Myth that is impossible to live up to. 

Ask any man, who has any level of maturity, if he wants a woman who looks like the above list and he’ll tell you that all he wants is a woman who will actually go out with him and accept him for what he is.  He doesn’t care about her eyebrows or the size of her feet or whether her boobs are big or not – all he wants is boobs of any shape or size.

But our young women have this image of perfection, this lie rammed down their throats at every turn.  They’re not allowed time to breathe, to find themselves, to work out who they are inside before they’re forced to look at themselves through the eyes of our judgemental social world and find themselves wanting.

Down that road lies eating disorders, depression, self-harm, obesity, failure at school, lack of self-esteem, plastic surgery, poor job prospects and missing out on a life that could be absolutely fabulous if only they could see themselves through the eyes of someone who loves them for who they are not what they look like.

Last year teengirl and I went along to the Dove Self-Esteem Project in London and we both came home slightly changed, different women – armed with the tools to challenge the myths that have manifested in the media and the fashion and beauty industries, armed with the knowledge that it’s all fake.  That what is inside us is what’s real and what’s beautiful.

And now Dove has struck up a partnership with the charity Girlguiding UK that they both hope will boost the body confidence of girls aged 7-14 all over the world.

The Perfect Woman list (pictured above) was actually created by a group of Girl Guide Peer Educators aged 14-25 in a bid to smash the Body Image Myth they all held before they descended upon Whitemoor Lakes in Staffordshire for their training weekend.

It was amazing for me to watch them provide the details for this list – they did it so easily.

And it was incredible to watch them come to the realisation – with the help of their own peer educator Laura Ede – that this perfect woman was absolutely and unutterably unattainable and that we are actually harming ourselves striving to be like her.

I watched the moment this recognition hit them, I watched as their faces lightened and brightened and their shoulders lifted a little.  I saw hope flood their faces.  And I heard the whole room exhale as they felt the freedom of their newfound understanding.

And I feel so privileged to have experienced such a liberating moment in these young girls lives.

These Peer Educators will take what they learned – their liberation from an unattainable myth – and spread that body confidence message across the UK.  They will, through fun activities, unmask society’s beauty myths, expose airbrushing and challenge unhealthy body talk.  They will give young Girl Guides the tools and encouragement to stand up and take action to stop unhealthy body ideals affecting the next generation of girls.

And the girls who take part in this huge empowering girls program will be working towards Girlguiding UK’s first body confidence badge – Free Being Me.

Laura Ede, 24, Chair of Girlguiding’s Peer Education National Co-ordination and Support Team said: “Free Being Me shows young people just how ridiculous this ‘Image Myth’ really is.  Young people today are under constant pressure to conform to impossible and unattainable standards of beauty in a society obsessed with image and appearance.”

The brand new badge comes in direct response to separate research by both Girlguilding UK and Dove that shows our young girls are drowning under the pressure of trying to reach unreachable and ridiculous beauty ideals:

The alarming research shows:

  1. 87% of girls aged 11-21 think they are judged more on looks than ability
  2. 1 in 5 girls of primary school age say they’ve been on a diet
  3. 1 in 4 girls aged between 11-21 would consider cosmetic surgery
  4. 38% of girls aged 11-21 say they have sometimes skipped meals to lose weight
  5. 47% of girls are unhappy with their looks
  6. Because they don’t like how they look:
  • 34% of girls miss out on swimming
  • 23% miss out on joining team sports or activities
  • 23% of girls won’t put their hands up in the classroom

These statistics are shocking and they’re describing your daughter, my daughter, your future daughter-in-law, your future granddaughter all suffering because of the Body Image Myth that we as adults, all too often, have bought into and perpetuate.

It’s time to stop it, to say no more: stop forcing your ideals down my daughter’s throat and stop making her feel bad for being a woman who doesn’t fit your unattainable idea of perfection.

I take my hat off to each and every Girlguiding Peer Educator in that room because they are going to help change our daughter’s worlds and give them the tools to challenge the norms, give them the body confidence to like themselves with all their flaws and the ability and give them the confidence to say “No More” to the body image myth perpetuated by our society.


This YouTube video, Evolution, was made by Dove and shows the unbelievable amount of photoshopping this gorgeous model’s picture is subjected to before it can be put in a magazine.

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