This cartoon is promoting positive self-esteem in young children and we love it


Parents today are no strangers to the impossible standards of beauty set by the glamazons and movie stars of the decades before –but that was pre-Twitter and Instagram. 

Given the non-stop and highly critical nature of media today, can we really understand the kind of pressure tweens and teens feel to be "perfect"? 

In 2015, the Film and Publication Board conducted research into the impact media has on South African children and found that our “media forms an enormous part of the lives of children", "the extensive exposure of media has a profound effect" and it "directly or subtly influences their thoughts and behaviour”. 

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why mainstream media has come to the table. 

Steven Universe – the popular Cartoon Network show now in its fifth season – released a series of six short animated films aimed at building the self-esteem and positive body image of teens around the world.

Creator Rebecca Sugar, the first woman to create a series for Cartoon Network, was inspired by her close relationship with her brother, and the show is well known for its themes of empathy, diversity, empowerment and inclusivity

The new episodes were developed with the input of renowned body image expert Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, best known for her work at the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England. 

Together, Sugar and Diedrichs have carefully designed content that strongly advocates positive attitudes and behaviours. 

“The partnership creates content that tackles topics identified in scientific research as key influences on young people’s body confidence, and delivers it in an engaging and fun way,” explains Dr Phillippa. 

For the series originator, the topic of positive image is also deeply personal. “This is an issue I have struggled with personally and I hope this will be a chance to amplify positive messages about self-awareness and acceptance.”

Here’s a peak at the series, which they produced in association with Dove: 

What shows, books or movies have been great in building your tween or teen's self-esteem? Tell us by emailing to and we could publish your letter. 

Read more: 

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