Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP)

Find out more about the Dove Self-Esteem Project and meet the team.

About the partnership

Since its establishment in 2014, CAR has collaborated with Dove in the development of a broad portfolio of applied research in mental health and body image interventions and measure validation. In collaboration with some of the largest global youth organisations, including the World Association for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and UNICEF, world-leading health professionals, technical experts and media platforms, the team has co-created effective and scalable face-to-face and digital interventions that promote body confidence and appearance diversity. Since the partnership began in 2014, the evidence-based tools co-created by CAR and Dove have reached over 95 million across the globe.

Previous streams of research have included:

  • the development and randomised controlled evaluation of an online body image tool for coaches and a face-to-face body image tool for girls in the US (United States)
  • developing a role-play game for US girls and boys that focuses on DSEP curriculum themes related to body functionality and social media literacy
  • the development and randomised controlled evaluation of a school-based body image intervention for high school students, designed for delivery by teachers (Confident Me)
  • randomised controlled evaluation of an online information and resource hub for parents of adolescent girls
  • developing and evaluating a body image programme (Free Being Me) for delivery by youth leaders to girl guiding groups, conducted in collaboration with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

These resources are now being disseminated by Dove worldwide. We were shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award in 2016.

Dove Self-Esteem Project

Image provided courtesy of Dove.

Dove Self-Esteem Project
Image of 4 young girls with different ethnicities, moving from left to right: Black, Chinese, Brown and White.

Current streams of research

Current streams of research include developing online and creative interventions to support women and young people.

For regular updates and information about ongoing research, subscribe to our podcast Appearance Matters.

2023 projects

AdhaFULL body image comic-books for children in rural India

In collaboration with UNICEF India, BBC Media Action, and Dove, has helped develop and evaluate a comics-based body image intervention for government schools in rural India based on a popular Indian TV series, AdhaFULL. This six-session intervention explores and discusses difficult topics including gender stereotypes, appearance comparisons, body talk, and media messaging around appearance ideals within the Indian context.

CAR has provided expertise on content, evaluated the comics for their acceptability and assessed their effectiveness through a randomized control trial. The intervention uses an innovative 'edutainment' approach and is the first effective teacher-delivered school-based body image intervention in India, which can be implemented at scale using minimal resources. This intervention is currently being disseminated by UNICEF across eight states of India, consequently helping to address the mental health needs of adolescents in this country. More information can be found on our podcast.

Girl Effect social marketing campaign for Indonesian adolescents

In collaboration with Girl Effect and Dove, CAR co-developed and led the evaluation of a series of engaging and culturally specific body confidence videos, disseminated via Facebook and YouTube .The series tells the fictitious story of a young woman named Putri who learns strategies to resist appearance pressures across adolescence and young adulthood through the help of animated time travellers, who are on a quest to save the world from appearance-related pressures. The intervention was shown to be effective in improving body image among Indonesian adolescent girls and has so far reached over 200,000 girls in Indonesia.

Creating embodied movement tools for coaches and girls

In collaboration with the Tucker Centre for Research on Girls and Women in Sport, this project aimed to develop the world’s first evidence-based, body image sporting programme for girls and a body image online training programme for coaches. Drawing on an embodiment framework and with downloadable session guides, session plans and activities, the programme was designed to help girls reclaim their confidence in their bodies and physical movement. The programs were co-created with girls and coaches from France, India, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the US. These are the first rigorously tested, effective, and scalable programs that improve girl athletes’ body confidence and trains coaches in creating a body positive culture. The program is currently being disseminated by Dove and other industry and community partners in ten countries.

Past projects

UNICEF Life Skills Body Image Lesson in Indonesian schools

Building on CAR’s work on school-based body image interventions for adolescents, CAR worked with UNICEF Indonesia and researchers from the University of Indonesia and University of Hawaii to co-develop a single-session body image lesson for teachers to deliver to secondary school students in Indonesia. The lesson is an adaption of the single-session version of Dove Confident Me. CAR led an RCT evaluation of the lesson with almost 2,000 students and a dozen school guidance counsellors in 2021-2022, during partial COVID-19 lockdowns in Surabaya, East Java. As a result, much of the trial was run online - a significant deviation from initial plans. The lesson was largely well received by students and counsellors, and recommendations for improvements were identified. The lesson plan and associated teacher training have been embedded into UNICEF’s Life Skills Education curriculum in collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture.

eBook about celebrating our differences

An evidence-based eBook written by body image experts, Sigrun Danielsdottir and researchers from the Centre for Appearance Research, The Wizard’s Tale: A Magical Journey Celebrating Body Confidence, helps parents and guardians to teach their kids about diversity and the importance of celebrating and respecting our differences. Specially created to draw upon key themes relating to body confidence in young people. Read more and download the eBook.

'Confident Me' teacher workshops

Designed for teachers, ‘Confident Me’ is an evidence-based classroom-based teacher-led workshop available in a one or five session format. Now a global programme available in multiple languages, the intervention has been evaluated by CAR for use in the UK and India, with independent replications underway in Portugal and Australia. Find out more about the 'Confident Me' workshops.

Read the article Evaluating the “Dove Confident Me” Five-Session Body Image Intervention Delivered by Teachers in Schools.

'Free Being Me' non-formal education curriculum for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

‘Free Being Me’ is a World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts non-formal education curriculum about body confidence and self-esteem. It has helped over 6.5 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, from more than 125 countries, value themselves, see beauty in diversity and take action to tackle the root-causes of low body confidence and self-esteem in society. The programme is based on a cognitive-dissonance methodology developed by CAR, and Drs Eric Stice and Carolyn Becker. CAR has also evaluated its implementation in 50 countries and conducted preliminary efficacy trials in both the UK and India.

Girls Room digital series

With 5.1m views and 72,000 engagements to date, this award-winning, five-part digital TV series written by Emmy-award winning, Lena Waithe, highlights everyday challenges girls face relating to body confidence. The series is ground-breaking for using social media as a strategic and positive tool to empower girls. CAR advised on the script development and shoot, and conducted research into its impact as a micro-intervention tool on US adolescent girls body image and attitudes toward appearance diversity. Find out more about the series

Steven Universe cartoons and e-book

Working with Cartoon Network and the award-winning creator of the Steven Universe cartoon series, the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) and CAR helped to develop and evaluate short animated films and a personalised e-book for children covering important topics relating to body image, including social media, celebrities and body functionality. Watch the series.  

Dove Self-Esteem Squad and Team digital games

In collaboration with Playmob and Dove, interactive playable digital micro-intervention games were developed to boost confidence and promote appearance diversity among eleven to fourteen year old and six to nine year old children respectively. Children overcome body image obstacles to become self-esteem heroes. Recent research from CAR shows playing the 90-second playable was associated with improvements to body image among children. More information about the Self-Esteem Team game.

Validating measures

Working closely with adolescents, academic collaborators, and translators, the team has been adapting tools to be able to accurately measure body image concerns across the globe. Developing reliable and valid questionnaires is essential to understand changes in body image and other related concepts like mood, self-esteem, and life engagement. This process involves adapting existing accredited tools in English (also known as validation), which requires rigorous processes including numerous translations and testing with adolescents to ensure comprehension and cultural appropriateness for different contexts. Having validated body image and related measures for different countries is critical to developing the evidence base in various cultures, allowing future researchers to accurately measure body image and associated changes in different settings.

The CAR Dove team is validating multiple measures in conjunction with King’s College London for adolescents in three different countries: Brazil, India, and Indonesia. Additional collaborators include the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Southern Minas Gerais, the University of Sao Paulo, the University of Indonesia, and the University of Hawai’i.

Meet the team

The team working with the Dove partnership at CAR is made up of an international team of inter-disciplinary researchers. More information about the team:

DSEP team

       Name        Role

Professor Phillippa Diedrichs

Phillippa leads the CAR/DSEP partnership team of researchers. Phillippa is a research psychologist with an international reputation for creating evidence-based strategies to improve body image in community, business, and policy settings, and investigating psychological and social influences on body image (e.g., social media, advertising, peers and family).

Associate Professor Heidi Williamson

Heidi assists Phillippa with leading the CAR/DSEP partnership team. She is an experienced applied health researcher, with a reputation for developing and evaluating body image interventions for young people and adults.

Dr Latika Ahuja

Latika is a Research Fellow working on the Indian streams of research. Latika is a trained mental health professional and has experience working therapeutically with young people and adults across various mental health institutions in Mumbai and New Delhi, India.

Mahira Budhraja

Mahira is a cross-partnership Research Associate. Mahira has a background in applied health psychology. Her expertise lies in researching women's health, she has looked at facets of sexual health, pain, body image and intimate partner violence through her research career.

Dr Nadia Craddock

Nadia is a Research Fellow who leads the Confident Me stream of research in Indonesia. Nadia’s expertise lies in colourism, disordered eating and the role of business in fostering positive body image through the lens of corporate social responsibility.

Dr Kirsty Garbett

Kirsty is a Research Fellow who leads the partnership with Girl Effect and measures validation in Indonesia. Kirsty is an applied body image researcher with extensive experience in the development and evaluation of interventions aimed to improve body confidence among adolescents.

Sharon Haywood

Sharon is a Research Associate working on the Indonesia streams of research. She has extensive experience in size-inclusive activism and facilitating policy change in Argentina and on a global level. Sharon is passionate about applied research regarding the relationship between clothing size availability and size discrimination.

Dr Helena Lewis-Smith

Helena is an Associate Professor who leads the India and Rapid Response streams of research. Helena has expertise in investigating sociocultural and psychological risk factors for, and health consequences of, body image concerns. She is also recognised for developing and evaluating interventions in education, community and clinical settings with children and adults.

Dr Emily Matheson

Emily is a Senior Research Fellow who leads the Brazil and Movement streams of research. Emily’s expertise lies in intervention development and evaluation. Emily is passionate about the use of digital innovation, as well as intervening the psychosocial barriers that prevent girls and women from engaging in and benefiting from movement.

Dr Nicole Paraskeva

Nicole is a Senior Research Fellow who leads the project in collaboration with Dove Kids. Nicole is an expert in researching risk factors for the development of body image concerns, evaluating community-based interventions including the coordination of clinical research trials, designing and evaluating shared decision-making tools for use in clinical settings, systematic reviews, and qualitative research.

Dr Jekaterina Schneider

Kat joined CAR as a Research Fellow, bringing her expertise in applied research within sport and exercise psychology and intervention development and evaluation. Kat is passionate about body image, exercise psychology, and eating disorders, as well as the promotion of diversity and inclusivity in research.

Harriet Smith

Harriet is a Research Associate primarily working on the Brazil stream of research and Rapid Response Framework, with a focus on developing and evaluating digital interventions for young people. Harriet has a background in applied health psychology research, working in clinical and community settings as an Assistant Psychologist and Research Assistant. Harriet is passionate about creating accessible mental health interventions for young people around the world. Her other interests include the role of body image in chronic health conditions, positive body image and social justice.

Aline Tinoco

Aline is Research Associate working on developing Embodied Movement Tools for Coaches and Girls. She is a dietician with an MSc in Public Health and specialises in clinical nutrition, more specifically under the Health at Every Size framework and using non-diet approaches like intuitive and mindful eating. She has extensive experience in the international NGO sector on designing planning and evaluating community programmes focusing on women’s health, from breastfeeding and maternal health to menstrual health for girls. She is particularly interested in women’s health, specifically in the areas of non-diet nutrition, intuitive eating, mindful eating and body image.


To view the latest publications from the team, please visit the UWE Bristol Research Repository

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Contact us

For any enquiry, please contact the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) office.

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