Just in time for Mother’s Day, a new study from Dove gives moms across the country something to feel good about: a majority of Canadian girls identify their mothers as their biggest female role model. Six in 10 girls between the ages of 10 and 17 named their mothers when asked who their role model is. And a previous Dove survey found moms were three times more influential than media at shaping the way girls feel about themselves and about what it means to be beautiful.
These findings, part of research conducted by Dove of women aged 10-64 as part of their Campaign for Real Beauty, are the positive elements in a study filled with unsettling, yet mostly unsurprising statistics. The survey of 1200 girls in six countries found that “a girl’s inner beauty critic moves in by the time she is 14 years old and continues to erode her self-esteem as she ages”. In fact, 47% of the Canadian girls surveyed between the ages of 10 and 17 reported having avoided activities like going to the beach, participating in physical activities, going to school, or giving an opinion because they feel badly about the way they look.
The research suggests, however, that positive role models can help young girls cope with beauty pressures: while 67% of girls without a role model say they have avoided certain social activities because they feel badly about the way they look, only 57% of girls who have a role model say this.
Sharon MacLeod, director of Dove Canada, was quoted as commenting, “It can put pressure on moms, but it can also be quite relieving. I think moms sometimes feel like they don’t have as much power as they do.”