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The Dove Self-Esteem Project And Shonda Rhimes Rally Policymakers, School Administrators, And Students In The Fight Against Hair Discrimination

Leading up to International Day of the Girl on October 11, the Dove Self-Esteem Project hosts a powerful town hall discussion revealing the impact of hair discrimination on girls' confidence

ENGLEWOODCLIFFS, N.J., Oct. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Girls are faced with challenges to their self-esteem on a daily basis that can hold them back from reaching their full potential, but surprisingly some of these issues stem from biased school policies. For Black girls, archaic school policies perpetuate negative narratives about natural hair that can impact girls' confidence – and violating these policies can result in their dismissal from school.

Faith Fennidy, Tyrelle Davis, Esi Eggleston Bracey, Deanna Cook, Shonda Rhimes, Mya Cook, Senator Holly Mitchell, and Janaya "Future" Khan attend a town hall discussion centered on the impact of hair discrimination hosted by The Dove Self-Esteem Project. (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images for Dove)

To underscore the importance of helping girls overcome the barriers they face in achieving an education, ahead of International Day of the Girl, the Dove Self-Esteem Project and award-winning television producer Shonda Rhimes hosted an impactful town hall discussion and Dove Self-Esteem Workshop in LA with policymakers, school administrators, and students to raise awareness around the issue of hair discrimination in schools and its impact on students' self-esteem.

"It feels like every day, there's a new headline about a Black girl being bullied or sent home from school because of the way she wears her hair – impacting not only her education but her self-image. It's time to take a stand," said Shonda Rhimes, who has been working with Dove for over two years as Creative Director. "We need to put an end to hair discrimination – but we can only do it together."

At the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the Dove Self-Esteem Project gathered 100 students and school administrators from across the country to a town hall, bringing together those most affected by hair discrimination alongside policymakers to drive actionable change for a more equitable future. Alongside Shonda Rhimes, the town hall was moderated by Dove Self-Esteem educator Dre Brown and featured passionate advocates in the issue of hair discrimination:

  • Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, who introduced Senate Bill 188 (The CROWN Act) banning hair discrimination in schools and in the workplace in California
  • Janaya 'Future' Khan, an activist and Program Director of Media Culture & Economic Justice at Color of Change
  • Faith Fennidy, Tyrelle Davis, and Mya and Deanna Cook, students who have faced hair discrimination at school
  • Esi Eggleston Bracey, COO and EVP Unilever Beauty and Personal Care North America

"Girls today experience barriers while developing their self-esteem. For Black girls, this can be especially damaging and isolating as these challenges are often tied deeply to their identity. This is unacceptable, and that's why we've brought together administrators from schools here and around the country, as well as students from LA County schools to discuss the impact of hair discrimination on students and actions we can take to drive change," Dove Self-Esteem educator Dre Brown said at the event.

The town hall was followed by an empowering Dove Self-Esteem Workshop where the students were armed with insights and tools to combat hair-related appearance pressures and build confidence. The event culminated in each and every attendee taking a stand and pledging to end hair discrimination in their schools.

"We know that Black girls cite their first experience with negativity about their appearance at as young as eight years old – and most often these comments are on their hair," said Eggleston Bracey. "The narrative that natural hair is distracting or unprofessional follows girls throughout their lives - from the classroom to the workplace, they face a bias that puts them at a disadvantage. While Dove and the CROWN Coalition have made progress in passing important legislation banning hair discrimination in the workplace and schools in California and New York, our work isn't done. We're proud to be driving the discussion and enacting real change to impact the confidence that Black women and girls feel in expressing themselves."

It's up to everyone to show ALL girls that it's okay to celebrate their unique beauty, and that their beauty is welcome in all places and institutions. Visit dove.com/selfesteem to find resources to have a conversation about beauty, confidence and self-esteem with the girls in your life. Your impact doesn't stop there. You can join us in creating real change that will impact the confidence that Black women and girls feel in expressing themselves. Go to dove.com/crown to sign our petition to pass The CROWN Act.

About The CROWN Coalition
The CROWN Coalition is a national alliance comprised of the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color Of Change, and Dove.

The CROWN Coalition is proud to sponsor and/or support the following bills in California, New York, and New Jersey:

  • Sponsor of CA Senate Bill 188 'The CROWN Act' introduced by Senator Holly J. Mitchell
  • Supporter of NY S6209A introduced by NY State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey and Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright
  • Supporter of NJ Senate Bill 3945; introduced by NJ State Senator Sandra B. Cunningham

These bills address unfair grooming policies that have a disparate impact on Black women, men and children and has drawn attention to cultural and racial discrimination taking place within workplaces and public charter schools. The CROWN Coalition members believe diversity and inclusion are key drivers of success across all industries and sectors.

About Dove
Dove started its life in 1957 in the US, with launch of the Beauty Bar, with its patented blend of mild cleansers and ¼ moisturizing cream. Dove's heritage is based on moisturization – proof not promises grew Dove from a Beauty Bar into one of the world's most beloved beauty brands.

Women have always been our inspiration and since the beginning, we have been wholly committed to providing superior care to all women and to championing real beauty in our advertising. Dove believes that beauty is for everyone. That beauty should be a source of confidence and not anxiety. Dove's mission is to inspire women everywhere to develop a positive relationship with the way they look and realize their personal potential for beauty.

For 60 years, Dove has been committed to broadening the narrow definition of beauty in the work they do. With the 'Dove Real Beauty Pledge,' Dove vows to:

  1. Portray women with honesty, diversity and respect. We feature women of different ages, sizes, ethnicities, hair colour, type and style.
  2. Portray women as they are in real life, with zero digital distortion and all images approved by the women they feature.
  3. Help young people build body confidence and self-esteem through the Dove Self-Esteem Project, the biggest provider of self-esteem education in the world.

About Unilever North America
Unilever is one of the world's leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. In the United States and Canada, the portfolio includes brand icons such as: Axe, Ben & Jerry's, Breyers, Degree, Dollar Shave Club, Dove, Hellmann's, Klondike, Knorr, Lever 2000, Lipton, Love Beauty and Planet, Magnum, Nexxus, Noxzema, Pond's, Popsicle, Pure Leaf, Q-tips, Seventh Generation, Simple, Sir Kensington's, St. Ives, Suave, Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto, TAZO, TIGI, TRESemmé and Vaseline. All of the preceding brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies.

Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) underpins the company's strategy and commits to:

  • Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.
  • Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030.
  • Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.

The USLP creates value by driving growth and trust, eliminating costs and reducing risks. In 2018, the company's Sustainable Living Brands grew 69% faster than the rest of the business, compared to 46% in 2017.

Since 2010 we have been taking action through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to help more than a billion people improve their health and well-being, halve our environmental footprint and enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business. We have already made significant progress and continue to expand our ambition – most recently committing to ensure 100% of our plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognized in 2018 as sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and as the top ranked company in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders survey, for the eighth-consecutive year. 

For more information on Unilever U.S. and its brands visit: www.unileverusa.com 
For more information on the USLP: www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/

Caleigh Burgess / Edelman


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