The actress is currently collaborating with Dove through the Self-Esteem Project to encourage parents to have conversations with their children about self-love and confidence.
In an interview with Good Morning America, actress Gabrielle Union opened up about her personal struggles with low self-esteem as well as how she presently manages her challenges with building confidence. In addition to this, she shared some advice with fellow parents who may be struggling with parenting children who compare themselves with others, celebrities in particular. Union also took the opportunity to share some of the affirmations she practices with her own daughter Kaavia James Union, aged 3. The actress is currently working on the Self-Esteem Project, an initiative launched by the personal care brand Dove. The brand has been actively involved in body positivity initiatives in the past.
Union noted that as a young girl, she may have seemed rather confident from the outside. However, internally, her world felt vastly different. "It appeared that I was sitting on top of the world, I had all the answers, I felt amazing about myself," the "Cheaper by the Dozen" actress said. "But inside, as a Black girl in predominantly non-minority spaces, I felt like I was never enough of anything. I was... I always felt way too black. I felt way too intelligent. I felt too, I felt very scrutinized."
Union commented on how antithetical her life felt. She stated, "It's a weird thing to feel invisible and hyper visible all at once," explaining how her struggle with hypervisibility and her inner battle with low self-esteem continued on with her until she reached her mid-forties. Now at 49 years old, she has found that embracing herself on the inside is what truly helped her step into the confident woman she is today. The actress has tried to pass on her own self-care rituals to her children. For instance, with little daughter Kaavia, she recites several self-love affirmations.
These include: "Your Black is beautiful, your hair is beautiful; your skin, your lips, everything that makes you you is absolutely beautiful and amazing." In collaboration with Dove, Union is encouraging other parents to do the same. For example, she shares useful resources with other parents, as well as tips on how to navigate important conversations to have with their teens. The actress has particularly focused on the impact of social media on young children and their self-esteem. In a study commissioned by the Self-Esteem Project, widespread evidence showed teens are consuming toxic beauty advice in their social media feeds. Notably, 80% of young girls claimed that they would like their parents to talk to them about how to manage idealized beauty advice on social media.
"There's so many other ways that our children can be harmed, and especially our girls," Union said, before reiterating the need for help and resources that encourage children to truly be themselves rather than chase an idealized version they see on social media. "And they also have to understand that the people that you're comparing yourself to, especially the people that you don't know, they don't look like what they present themselves to be. We all want to present this fictionalized version of ourselves to social media, but I don't always think we understand the harmful effects of doing that. And you know, for our girls, they need to understand that it's not real. And it's okay to be exactly you because it will get you a lot further than pretending to be someone else and always feeling less than."