Dear Dr. Ads,
Did you see this story in the New York Times yesterday?
City Unveils a Campaign to Improve Girls’ Self-Esteem
The fashion industry and Madison Avenue are not anathema to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in the same way that soda companies and big tobacco are. But they are, in a sense, the impetus for City Hall’s latest public health campaign.
Mr. Bloomberg is taking on the popular, unattainable notions of beauty promoted by professional image-makers with a campaign that tells girls that they are beautiful the way they are.
Mainly through bus and subway ads, the campaign aims to reach girls from about 7 to 12 years old, who are at risk of negative body images that can lead to eating disorders, drinking, acting out sexually, suicide and bullying. But unlike Mr. Bloomberg’s ads to combat teenage pregnancy, smoking and soda-drinking, which are often ugly, revolting or sad, these ads are uniformly upbeat and positive.
Whaddaya think, Doc – good idea?
– Bloom(berg) Off the Rose
First off, the Doc has never lacked for self-esteem, so he’s the ideal person to address this issue.
The $330,000 NYC Girls Project describes itself as “[a] public education campaign geared toward girls ages 7-12 appearing on buses, subways, and phone kiosks and featuring a diverse group of girls performing activities like reading, playing sports, and drawing with the words: “I’m a girl. I’m smart, a leader, adventurous, friendly, funny. I’m beautiful the way I am.”
Yes you are. (See PSA here.)
It reminds the Doc of Nike’s classic 1995 damage-control If You Let Me Play spot.
There are some NYC Girls Project spoilsports, though.
This initiative gets so many things right. But to pick a nit, what’s with the slogan? As Kat Stoeffel at the Cut notes, “There’s something slightly contradictory about the NYC Girls Project message—‘Don’t worry about how you look. You look beautiful!’ ” Isn’t the point of the program to encourage girls to disassociate their sense of worth from their physical appearance? Why couldn’t the slogan simply be, “I’m Awesome the Way I Am?”
The NYC Girl’s Project may have employed all the right tactics, but the long-term effectiveness of self-esteem programs is still in question. In a study published in 2013 on an Internet-based promotion of positive body image, young girls in the study reported a decrease in body dissatisfaction: they compared their bodies less to others and were more satisfied with their own appearance than girls who hadn’t seen the promotion. However, the positive effects had dissipated during a followup interview three months later.
Even so, it’s worth trying, yeah?