New Podcast Focuses on Improving Self-image, Reclaiming Confidence

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by Mary Chapman |

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A new podcast series hosted and produced by cultural expert Jess Weiner aims to help girls, non-binary individuals, and women, with their confidence. The target audience includes those with physical disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), that may affect their self-image.

Called “Dominant Stories with Jess Weiner,” the 12-episode podcast is the result of a collaboration between the Dove Self-Esteem Project and longtime partner and television producer Shonda Rhimes, and Shondaland Audio.

The podcast will air weekly on Shondaland Audio through the iHeart Podcast Network. The first episode, featuring singer and songwriter Sara Bareilles, was released Oct. 27.

The Dove Self-Esteem Project, touted as the world’s largest provider of body-confidence education, was established in 2004 to ensure that the next generation has a “positive relationship with beauty.” To date, the project has helped educate more than 69 million young people across 150 countries. The aim is to reach 250 million by 2030.

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The Weiner podcast seeks to provide a safe, open, and honest space for exploring themes around, for example, unrealistic beauty standards, appearance-based anxiety, pressures to be perfect, building body confidence, and the social media culture.

Weiner has spent 26 years researching cultural trends and educating others to help individuals feel seen, heard, and understood. While such feelings are important for everyone, they often particularly allude girls, non-binary individuals, and women with physical disabilities such as MS, the cultural expert says.

“I created the concept of ‘Dominant Stories’ after spending nearly two decades as an educator focused on self-esteem and empowerment,” Weiner said in a press release. “These ‘Dominant Stories’ tend to manifest as negative inner dialogue that says ‘I’m not pretty enough, I’m too old to start something new, I’m not thin enough,’ and it doesn’t just come out of thin air.”

Indeed, Weiner said, such “self-limiting beliefs come from the influences of culture, media, and the people around us.”

She wants to change that narrative.

“With this new podcast, our goal is to help people rewrite the stories they tell themselves. I want our listeners to know they are not alone,” Weiner said.

“We are going to have open and honest dialogue with experts, authors, celebrities, and role models who can help our listeners critically think through where their own ‘Dominant Stories’ originated, as well as provide some supportive steps of action they can take to live a life filled with more confidence,” she said.

The series will launch with an episode titled “Creativity and Dominant Stories,” followed by “Changing Your Story, Changing Your Life,” “Fame, Impact, and Social Media,” and “When Your Body Feels Like The Enemy.” Subsequent episodes include “Sharing the Legacy of Beauty Rituals,” “Breaking the Binary in Beauty,” “Rewriting Beauty On-Screen,” and “Aging. Period.” There will be a special “Holiday Episode – Body Image & Family.”

Two of the episodes address changing one’s body. Their topics are: “Can I Still Love My Body And … Still Want to Lose Weight?” and “Can I Still Love My Body And … Still Want to Get Plastic Surgery?”

The final podcast will be titled “Creativity and Dominant Stories, Pt. 2.”

In addition to Sara Bareilles, guests will include body image researcher Nadia Craddock, author Lori Gottlieb, actress Debby Ryan, author and speaker Luvvie Ajayi Jones, stylist Stacy London, actress Rachel Bloom, and MS advocate Azure Antoinette.

At the conclusion of each episode, listeners will be provided with steps they can take to improve their confidence and self-esteem. There also will be a mention of the free resources provided by the Dove Self-Esteem Project.

“What makes me most proud of my partnership with Dove is that it is rooted in changing the narrative around traditional beauty standards to create a more inclusive, accepting, and self-confident world,” said Rhimes.

“I couldn’t be more excited to continue this work through the launch of the Dominant Stories podcast as we aim to reclaim and rewrite the stories (true or false) that women and non-binary individuals have told themselves about their bodies, their beauty, and their identities,” she added.

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