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

ENGLEWOODCLIFFS, N.J., Oct. 4, 2019  — 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.

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.

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