While her hair has grown back, the self-confidence that inspired Briana Valgre to shave her head for charity remains stronger than ever.
The Pakuranga-based Girl Guide says had she not gone through the Global Dove Self Esteem Project (DSEP), she wouldn’t have had the courage to go through with it.
“I realise that as long as I’m making that difference that I want to make then it shouldn’t matter what I look like and I don’t really care what anyone thinks,” she says.
The DSEP aims to boost the self esteem and body confidence of young girls and has so far reached 19 million young people in more than 138 countries worldwide.
Dove is now officially launching the project in New Zealand working in partnership with the Life Education Trust and Girl Guides New Zealand, and will see life-changing self esteem building programmes rolled out in schools across the country.
Dove hopes to reach and positively influence 18,000 young Kiwis over the next year.
Valgre took part in ‘Free Being Me’ in 2015 as part of the DSEP during her Girl Guide Lessons, and says the lessons she learn have transformed her self-confidence.
“I have learnt as long as I’m confident in who I am then it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks.”
Briana says the most valuable activity she completed during the weekend-long programme was learning to identify unrealistic beauty ideals.
“We drew an outline of a woman and a man based on what society deems is perfect. So we considered things like what colour hair would the perfect woman have, what colour would their skin be, the colour of their eyes,” she says.
“When we were done we destroyed the image to prove to ourselves that nobody is ever going to realistically look like that.”
Briana has since set up a Facebook page with her friend Tayla Webb called ‘Breaking the Beauty Myth’ where they shared photos, quotes and videos to spread the messages they leaved from the DSEP programme.
They also talked one-on-one to many friends to help build body confidence in their communities.
Briana says she can’t wait to see the programme taught in schools so that others can feel just as confident as she does.
“I want to see everyone love themselves and each other for who they are as people, and ignore what’s on the outside.”