Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP)

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

In 2014, the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) commenced an academic partnership with the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) to conduct world-leading research to develop and evaluate innovative evidence-based interventions that promote body confidence among young people around the world. The Dove Self-Esteem Project is a global education initiative by the Unilever brand, Dove, that aims to ensure the next generation grow up with a positive relationship to their bodies and the way they look. 

About the partnership

Via the partnership, CAR has developed 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 40 million in 150 countries.

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 projects

Body image chatbot for Brazilian adolescents

Working with UNICEF Brazil, social impact startup, Talk2U, and researchers from the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology; Universidade Federal de São Paulo; Kennesaw State University; and CAR have helped to develop a body image chatbot integrated into Facebook messenger for adolescents. This innovative mode of micro-intervention delivery is designed to immediately relieve short term symptoms of low body esteem. The team have also developed the first body image measure for Brazilian adolescents and will evaluate the chatbot’s acceptability and effectiveness as an AI, body image intervention tool.

Dove Self-Esteem Squad and Team digital games

Working with Playmob and Dove, these interactive playable digital micro-intervention games aim 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 is associated with improvements to body image among children. More information about the Self-Esteem Team game.

UNICEF Life Skills Body Image Lesson in Indonesian schools

Building on our previous research into Confident Me, CAR has been working with UNICEF Indonesia and researchers from the University of Indonesia and University of Hawaii to help develop a single-session lesson plan for teachers to deliver to secondary school students in Indonesia. The lesson plan and associated teacher training has been embedded into UNICEF’s Life Skills Education curriculum which has been designed in collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture, in partnership with the University of Muhammadiyah Sorong (UNIMUDA) with inputs from the Ministry of Health, adolescents, teachers, and education personnel. The single session lesson plan and associated teacher training is currently undergoing evaluation by CAR through a randomised controlled trial.

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.

Past projects

'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.  

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.

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.

Farheen Hasan

Farheen is a Research Associate working on India-related projects at CAR. Farheen has a background in conducting cross-cultural research, and the impact of cultural and religious factors on body image and psychosocial outcomes. Farheen is passionate about working with children in developing countries, social justice and social change, alongside her work in body image.

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 a Senior Research Fellow 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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For any enquiry, please contact Eleanor Coates (

Alternatively, contact the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) office.

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