YouTube celebrates International Women’s Day with #DearMe campaign

Dear Me 2

In case you’ve been under a rock and didn’t already know, today is International Women’s Day. While many of us are still groggy from losing an hour of sleep to Daylight Savings here in North America, it is important to take the time to acknowledge the contributions of women to our society and how misogyny and other systems of oppression continue to affect women around the world.

In an attempt to celebrate womanhood and sharing inspiring stories, YouTube launched their #DearMe campaign that encourages women from all walks of life to answer a not-so simple question: what would you tell your younger self? The launch video features actress Felicia Day, musician Lindsey Sterling, sex educator Laci Green, and comedian Hannah Hart, among others. Many of the women who appear in the video are popular YouTubers with thousands of fans and millions of views on the videos which discuss life, beauty, fashion, music, and a variety of other topics.

The #DearMe movement is inspired by the #ItGetsBetter campaign from 2010, which sought to spread a message of hope to LGBTQA+ youth who are at a high risk of suicide. And perhaps it is at the perfect time, since it unintentionally coincided with a recently published CDC study that shows that suicide rates among women and girls are actually increasing in the United States. Not enough to eliminate the gender difference in suicide rates, but certainly enough to be concerning. Meanwhile, young women are among the people most at-risk for developing mental illness, especially mood disorders, like anxiety and depression, and eating disorders. #DearMe does not intend to say that men do not struggle with self-esteem any more than #ItGetsBetter would indicate that heterosexual and cisgendered youth don’t struggle with suicidal thoughts or actions; it is merely a campaign to highlight the specific struggles young women face in their lives and assure them that they can survive it, from one woman to another. It’s a way of saying, “I’ve been there, I know how you feel, and look at me now.”

A cursory glance of the videos make a few common topics stand out, namely self-esteem, race, love, bullying, sexuality, self-love, self-care and beauty. Many of the women comment on awkward or uncomfortable childhood experiences and a feeling of being lost as they grew older. They struggled with feeling like they were good enough, with being comfortable expressing themselves, and learning that they deserved to love themselves and let others love them. Now they speak from a place of confidence and comfort in themselves. Too young, girls are often taught that their self worth is defined entirely by their beauty and how others perceive them and it can take a long time to learn otherwise. The launch video ends with the affirming words, “You are great, you are unique, you are magical.”

In addition to the YouTube page and the hashtag that trended on Twitter within the first hour of the video being released, there’s a Tumblr page dedicated to the movement. Check out the launch video below and let us know in the comments which video in the series is your favourite!

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