Dove is launching Real Virtual Beauty

Dove partners with industry allies Women in Games, Epic Games’ Unreal Engine’s education team and Toya on a series of actions to increase diversity and representation of female characters and support girls with self-esteem education.

23rd September, London: Today, Dove is launching Real Virtual Beauty, a series of actions supported by partners across the gaming industry, including Epic Games’ Unreal Engine’s education team and Women in Games, to shatter beauty stereotypes and equip the next generation of young creators and players with the tools to build self-esteem and body confidence.

For over 60 years, Dove has been committed to creating a positive experience of beauty for women and girls – working to shatter the harmful beauty ideals that impact the body confidence and self-esteem of women and girls daily. The Dove Self-Esteem Project has reached more than 82M young people across 150 countries through its academically accredited programmes. Now, with a growing number of women and girls playing video games than ever before, Dove is bringing this commitment to create a more inclusive virtual world.

Dove is starting where intervention is most urgently needed with the launch of a Real Beauty in Games Training – a unique training and accreditation course developed in partnership with Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) and industry experts. Through the training, Dove is inviting game creators to help reflect the diversity we see in everyday life, and to avoid contributing to stereotypes and biases in design. Participants who have completed the course will have the opportunity to showcase their final works through the launch of an online “Real Virtual Beauty” character art collection – curated by Dove and available on Epic Games’ Art Station platform – helping raise the standard for the authentic, diverse and inclusive representation of women and girls across the games world.
In parallel, using a public health intervention model, the Dove Self-Esteem Project is equipping the next generation of creators and players with the tools to build self-esteem and body confidence through the launch of SuperU Story, the world’s first Roblox experience – in partnership with Toya – designed to deliver self-esteem education. 

1.3 billion women and girls make up half of the global games community2, with 60% playing video games before the age of 13. New research from Dove1 – co-published with Women in Games, an international organisation striving for equity and parity for all women and girls in games, and the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) – reveals that the games industry still reflects narrow beauty standards, making many women and girls feel underrepresented, negatively impacting their self-esteem:

Leandro Barreto, Dove Global Vice President: “At Dove we believe that beauty should be a source of confidence, not anxiety, in every aspect of life, both real and virtual. As part of Dove’s social mission in confidence and self-esteem, we are taking steps to tackle negative stereotypes in the rapidly growing games industry. Through our work with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine education team, Women in Games, and alongside the launch of SuperU Story on Roblox – we hope to make a real impact on the millions of women and girls who are spending their free time playing games.”

As part of Dove’s ongoing commitment to portraying inclusive beauty, the brand will offer a series of grants and awards to the best Real Virtual Beauty avatar designer, helping fund and expand their work with the opportunity to be featured in some of the industry’s biggest video games.

“The representation of women in gaming platforms, products and services has long been an issue,” explains Marie-Claire Isaaman, CEO, Women in Games.“As activists, Women in Games has a key objective to support women and young girls in the games industry, and those who play games, so we are delighted to see Dove and allies in the games industry tackle this with the introduction of the Real Virtual Beauty Library and the Real Beauty in Games Training Program, as well as the launch of SuperU Story. What’s so important here is that the innovative tools, and training reach the target audience, where there is the opportunity to make a real impact. Women in Games are resolutely behind supporting that to happen.”   

“We’re honoured to work with Dove and leading experts to create the Real Beauty in Games Training course, and we hope that together as a community, we can make real beauty a reality in digital worlds,” says Julie Lottering, Director, Unreal Engine Education. “Our goal with the training course is to educate game developers on the research that’s available so artists understand why representation in game design matters, and also to teach artists how to use the tools and techniques available to create more authentic characters so all players feel empowered to have fun with friends.”

Part of Dove’s ambition to transform games into a positive space is to see more games experiences that not only entertain, but also inspire and educate the younger generation.

Introducing SuperU Story, the world’s first experience on Roblox, developed by female founded and led games studio Toya, specifically designed to help young girls combat negative self-esteem and build body confidence through a first of its kind virtual experience that encourages users to be their true selves instead of aspiring to stereotypes and unrealistic beauty ideals. Entirely free and available to visit now, the experience is an extension of the Dove Self Esteem Project – the world’s largest provider of self-esteem education. SuperU Story was also incepted with the Dove Youth Board, and validated by psychological experts from the Centre for Appearance Research – an academic institution that focuses on the role appearance and body image plays in people’s lives.

“We’re proud to partner with Dove and the Centre for Appearance Research on SuperU Story to speak to the young female gamers that are often overlooked or stereotyped,” said Anat Shperling, Founder and CEO of Toya“The Roblox experience is also an invitation for parents to learn more about the digital world in which the next generation ‘lives’ and to advocate for games and experiences that better reflect equal opportunities, diverse characters, and more dynamic storylines across the gender spectrum.”

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