Zaya Wade's Confidence and Attitude Toward Social Media Was Inspired by Gabrielle Union

A study by The Dove Self Esteem Project finds that social media beauty advice has a troubling effect on the self-esteem of teen girls. Zaya Wade says to start with #DetoxYourFeed.

Zaya Wade and Gabrielle Union arrive for the "Cheaper by the Dozen" Disney premiere
Photo: CHRIS DELMAS/Getty Images

Being a teenage girl is undoubtedly hard. And, according to a new study from The Dove Self-Esteem Project, using social media sharpens those growing pains.

Two-thirds of the teen girls who the beauty brand surveyed say they spend more than an hour on social media daily and half of them say the idealistic beauty advice they encounter when they log in causes low self-esteem. Simply, for teen girls who are just starting to develop self-confidence, social media can be a minefield and they need their parents' help to navigate it.

We also know that this issue is even more complicated for Black teens, who are more active on social media than white teens and constantly contend with Eurocentric beauty standards there and elsewhere.

Through a new campaign called #DetoxYourFeed, Dove has released Toxic Influence, a short film highlighting damaging social media messages like, "You have to treat yourself to a chemical peel. They're a total glow up," and enlisting parents to counteract them. They're sharing resources—a short video for parents, a confidence kit, and will be streaming the Dove Real Talk Parent workshop on May 12 with cultural expert Jess Weiner and psychotherapist Nadia Addesi.

The company is also teaming up with people who are familiar with the harsh glare of the spotlight like Gabrielle Union and her daughter Zaya Wade, to deter teens from bad beauty advice.

"We're being constantly inundated with idealized beauty advice that is not helpful or healthy for anybody. We are being constantly bombarded with predatory products that prey on the low self-esteem of teens, especially teen girls," Union-Wade told Kindred by Parents.com in an interview. "Being inundated, for a lot of Black and brown girls, with anti-Blackness and Eurocentric beauty ideals as the only way to be seen or thought of as valuable or worthy. And we need to combat that."

She says she wants her children to live "out loud and proud" and provides them with all of the guidance and resources they need to do so. Union-Wade's own confidence is hard-earned. She has experienced her share of negativity from the media as a veteran in Hollywood and is equally experienced at preserving her self-esteem.

Zaya Wade

I knew from day one, but especially when I came out as trans, that not everyone—a lot of people—wouldn't accept or like that. We have loving and caring talks about how the media can be or will be, and that's really helpful when I'm just like, "Walk it out."

— Zaya Wade

"Your negative commentary about my life, my hair, my skin color, my career is actually none of my business," she says. "It's my business to be as healthy and whole as possible and to move through this world with my head held high and my pride and my soul intact."

When it comes to social media influences, which can be a roadblock in both teaching and learning confidence, she and Wade institute boundaries. #DetoxYourFeed may seem daunting to teen girls at first, but it's a relatively easy way to protect self-esteem.

"I knew from day one, but especially when I came out as trans, that not everyone—a lot of people—wouldn't accept or like that. We have loving and caring talks about how the media can be or will be, and that's really helpful when I'm just like, 'Walk it out,'" Zaya Wade told Kindred by Parents.com. "You can unfollow, you can look away, you can scroll past it."

And it's true. Unfollowing works. Seven of 10 teen girls felt better after unfollowing idealistic beauty content on social media. But what about Black teens, who can't tune out pervasive, systemic messages that elevate white beauty?

To them, Union-Wade says, "Black girl you are so beautiful. You are so powerful. You are so intelligent. Don't ever let anyone ever sell you anti-Blackness and tell you it's beauty advice. Don't let it rob you of the joy that it is to be a Black person in this world. There is big business in making you hate yourself and you do not have to participate."

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