TODAY   |  April 30, 2014

Teens tackle body image in new PSAs

As the “Love Your Selfie” series continues, TODAY talks to teens who were paired up with filmmakers and given the opportunity to reveal in a public service announcement what the concept of “Love Your Selfie” means to them.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> dove wants every woman's encounter with a mirror to be a positive affirmation of her beauty.

>>> we're back. it's 8:39. this morning on our special series called "love your selfie," we turn our attention to teenager. in our recent today aol body image survey, 78% of teenage girls revealed they have negative thoughts about their appearances. with that in mind, we found three groups of teens working to change the way they view themselves. the girl scouts of the usa , girls inc . and partners with dove in this self-esteem project which has reached 13 million people. and rebel is a grass roots organization started in kansas in 2008 . so we paired the teens with some film makers who are part of a mentoring program supported by dove at the sundance institute . we asked them to tell us what love your selfie means to them in a 15-second public service announcement . take a look.

>> we are the girl scouts of northern new jersey .

>> i think about how i look a lot more than i should.

>> this is san antonio .

>> i may see, like, the flaws that i have, but i know that's what makes me unique.

>> we are rebel.

>> when i look in the mirror and i wake up every day, it's about how can i be a better person, how can i be a better student, a better daughter, a better sister.

>> bombarded by images of so-called perfection everywhere they turn, these girls are trying to reclaim beauty.

>> i feel like we've based our idea on beauty on what society and what the media has told us.

>> you see these images and you're like, i want to look like that, because everyone else does and you want to fit in.

>> there is always the want to be whoever is on the screen, but i'm instantly reminded that a lot of work goes into those people and they probably don't look like that on an everyday basis.

>> enter the film makers, who will help each group create a meaningful message that hopefully resonates with their peers.

>> action.

>> what are some powerful images and phrases that might be able to say a lot in a short amount of time?

>> for the girl scouts , the power of selfies takes center stage .

>> we could have a lot more girls taking selfies and then they leave one girl out.

>> could have two groups of girls, like one group that are popular kids and taking a selfies and adding effects to it and trying to be perfect. the other group, make silly faces and stuff because they know that they're just being themselves.

>> that's a great idea.

>> i like that one.

>> what you're going to do in creating this psa is just awesome. because all the great work that you guys do, you can now get it out there in the world.

>> for rebel, it's about paving the way to a positive future.

>> when you're little, they ask what do you want to be when you grow up. instead of the typical profession, like i want to be a doctor, a teacher, a vet, we say something along the lines of i want to be confident or creative or inspiring.

>> you could click like and it would be, like, you're liking your selfie.

>> beauty is in the eye of the beholder . i think that's a thing that we can work with.

>> and for girls inc ., the message is clear. accept who you are.

>> i think as girls, we're all our worst critics.

>> we feel like we need to impress, like, everyone around us even though we really don't. but we feel it. it just gets to us.

>> you shouldn't live your life trying to please other people. the most important thing is pleasing yourself.

>> oh, my gosh, i love your dress.

>> what are you talking about? she looks like a librarian.

>> no, she looks original. we should totally hang out sometime.

>> you're trying way too hard.

>> no, she's trying something new. she's expressing herself.

>> it doesn't even fit your body type .

>> dare to be different. be a maverick.

>> love your selfie.

>> okay, guys, ready?

>> #loveyourselfie.

>> because it's the only one you've got.

>> when i grow up, i will be confident in my body.

>> less critical of my curves.

>> free of my eating disorder.

>> me.

>> no filters.

>> no photoshop.

>> because i'm so much more than a picture.

>> bravo. three of the young women who helped create these psas are with us now. we've got girl scout melanie , lily from rebel, and elizabeth from girls inc . hello, ladies. or shall i say film makers. was that fun to watch, to see the final product?

>> yeah.

>> what did you think?

>> i think it turned out pretty well, yeah.

>> these are powerful message hh s. it would seem the challenge is getting that message into a 15-second package. lily, is that what you found?

>> yeah. rebel's core message is to love your selfie, so although that's basically what we base our organization off of, it was definitely a challenge to fit all of what we wanted to say in 15 seconds.

>> what's it like for teenagers these days? these are great messages. messages of empowerment. but is that the way it really is at school? do you feel like teens do support each other? those differences are accepted and trumpeted?

>> honestly, it depends on the people you surround yourself with. if you surround yourself with positive energy, you're going to receive positivity. so whenever you post a picture or say things on a social media site, then that positive energy will come to you through their messages, and for example, at girls inc ., i'm surrounded by so many other good people, like the volunteers, they're very positive. and that has made me to the person i am today.

>> melanie , do you think social media is good for this kind of thing, and this conversation and feeling good about yourself, or can it be bad? can it be a bad influence and make people feel bad about themselves?

>> yeah, i feel like it starts out more being bad. you know, any picture you see of a model online and automatically, girls judging themselves based off of that picture that they find, you know, perfect. so they want to kind of look more like that. but recently, there's like stuff going on about self-confidence and good images, healthier body. i think it has good and negative effects on people.

>> it's one thing to talk about it, but do you feel it? do you guys really feel it inside?

>> yes, for sure.

>> that's great. talk about good feeling. have you heard of nbc's campaign called "the more you know"?

>> not yet.

>> take a look. i'll show you what it's all about. we'll roll the tape.

>> all because they had a dedicated crossing guard . the more you know.

>> so the more you know has been around 25 years. great psa campaign. and i'm here to tell you this morning that the more you know is going to feature your 15-second psa . so we're going to do them online,, all over the web. so what you did isn't just for this moment. it will be repeated over and over again.

>> awesome. thank you so much.

>> i think we should say thank you to you. we really appreciate it. and it's a great message you're sending out there.

>> thank you.

>> melanie , lily, and elizabeth, thank you.

>>> coming up tomorrow, hoda is going to open up about finding beauty again after her battle with cancer.

>>> and then on friday, pop star jordin sparks talks to jenna bush hager about the path to becoming more confident in her body.