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New superhero cartoon aims to smash self-esteem issues

Image: Dove and Cartoon Network video, Episode 1: Teasing and bullying 

Dove and Cartoon Network unveil new mini-series boosting young people’s body confidence and challenging stereotypes

'We’re small but we’re strong. We’re cool but we’re kind and we deserve to shine. We’re gritty and tough, we’re smooth and refined and we deserve to shine. We’ll figure it out, there’re plenty of time, for every body and every mind.And every facet to finally find that, we deserve to shine, we deserve to shine...'

So go the lyrics to an animated music video from Dove Self-Esteem Project x Steven Universe – an exciting new link-up between the hit Cartoon Network kids cartoon and Unilever’s campaign to promote self-esteem and body confidence among children.

Steven Universe created six short animated films to educate children aged 6-14 on body confidence and self-esteem, based on Dove Self-Esteem Project themes, including bullying and making body comparisons. The shows complement the existing free in-school workshop resources and Uniquely Me parent guide.

Download the free workshop sessions and parent guide here

Steven Universe is watched by 40 million young people worldwide and is created by Cartoon Network’s first female show creator, Rebecca Sugar. It features a diverse female cast of characters, who fight forms of evil in the world, finding their strength from their body shape and type.

Sugar, who has revealed her own struggles with self-esteem as a child, was keen to use expert advice from self esteem and bullying campaigns to produce a show that would help other young people who suffered from similar confidence issues.

‘Growing up, it was difficult for me to really identify as a girl, and I didn’t really have access to any information to tell me what that meant,’ the 31-year-old American animator recently revealed. ‘And, what’s exciting to me now is to be able to speak to these experts who are really giving me a new way of looking at situations.’

The first two episodes of the animated films are available to view now. In episode one, characters Amethyst and Jasper learn how to talk about bullying and how words can make us feel. Episode two looks at competing and comparing looks, with Smoky Quartz and Sardonyx discovering how unique they are. Here, young people are encouraged to embrace individuality.

Steven Universe has been acclaimed for its approach to exploring and expanding gender roles, including the concepts of non-binary women that sit outside classic superhero narratives.

The films aim to educate children on the core themes of the campaign, via the characters’ different traits. Each represents a strong, positive role model, inspiring young people’s sense of individuality and boosting their body confidence.

There will also be an educational eBook coming soon for parents to read with their child, addressing barriers to self-esteem such as body image and bullying.

Watch the latest episodes

You can download the free Uniquely Me parent guide for expert advice from Dove Self-Esteem Project global experts from the fields of psychology, body image, self-esteem, eating disorders and media representation to create a resource for parents that is focused on advice and action.


Download the FREE parent guide to help raise a child's self-esteem. 

Parent Zone is working with the Dove Self-Esteem Project to help boost UK pupils' body confidence through its PSHE Association-approved in-school workshops. Find out more about the full programme here.