The Girl Guides' "Free Being Me" Badge Promotes Positive Body Image For Girls

The pressure to conform to societal beauty standards unfortunately puts pressure on girls from a young age, but here's an awesome campaign to uplift self-esteem in girls: Dove has partnered with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to create the new "free being me" badge. Based in the UK, the program will award this badge to scouts and guides who have completed learning programs about body image. Why "free being me?" In order to encourage girls to celebrate their uniqueness and to love themselves just the way they are.

The program was created after the results of a recent survey by the UK's Girl Guide organization, which looks at the attitudes of girls on various issues. They found that 87 percent felt they were judged more critically on their appearance than on their skills; furthermore, 60 percent had stopped participating in an activity because they felt they didn't look good enough to participate. Additionally, almost half of girls between the ages of 11 and 16 were unhappy with the way they looked. This prompted the partnership between Dove and the Girl Guides, as they wanted to create their own programming to address this problem of low self-esteem and body confidence.

This program is set to be delivered to three million girls around the UK over the next three years — and not only that but it's also going to be taken to 146 countries around the world in order to reach as many girls as possible. The "free being me" badge will be earned by girls who go through comprehensive training that examines the ways women are told they should look by society. The sessions will "help girls recognise myths about how girls and women 'should' look and be happy in their own skin," according to the Free Being Me website.

One of the best aspects of this program is that it's designed to be ongoing: Girls who participate in the program are encouraged to take what they've learned into their real life. They are also given the opportunity to go on to become Peer Educators, who are women and girls between the ages of 14 and 26 who will be leading this and other Girl Guide programs. It's designed this way so that girls can see real role models to whom they can relate, instead of leaders who may not have experienced the world in the ways that today's girls do.

The Free Being Me website declares that "no girl should feel she can't succeed because of her appearance" and I couldn't agree more with this message. Let's hope that this programming makes a real change in the ways girls view themselves and their bodies.

Images: Getty Images: Girlguiding/Instagram (2)