Dove Finds a Perfect Partner for Its Self-Esteem Message in Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe

Themes around body image are true to show

Steven Universe takes on self-esteem with Dove. - Credit by Cartoon Network
Headshot of Shannon Miller

Since 2004 Dove has worked diligently to reframe how young people view and accept their bodies via the Dove Self-Esteem Project. It was designed in response to studies that found over half of young girls struggled with body confidence.

For their latest campaign, Dove has partnered with Rebecca Sugar, the creator of the Cartoon Network series Steven Universe, for a two-year collaboration featuring six short films starring the beloved Crystal Gems. This is the project’s first venture into the mainstream entertainment space, whereas its previous waves existed primarily on YouTube. Sugar cited how the team-up was already proving to be mutually beneficial.

“I’m grateful I’ll have access to a plethora of research on body image and mental health thanks to this partnership,” said Sugar. “It’s an issue I have struggled with personally, and I hope this will be a chance to amplify positive messages about self-awareness and acceptance.”

The initial short—which addresses appearance-related bullying—premiered on Cartoon Network in April.


This week the cable network released two more installments, the first tackling body confidence featuring show characters Smoky Quartz and Sardonyx.


The second, a music video titled “We Deserve to Shine,” will likely find fans of Steven Universe drawn to it, as the show often utilizes music to explore complex emotions.


The public service announcements seriously resonate in star power, style and substance. Not only do they center around characters from the highly-acclaimed Cartoon Network show, but Sugar’s vérité, documentary-style of animation—which includes “unscripted” moments of faltering confidence among the cast—make the shorts engaging and accessible to young and older audiences alike. Dove’s determination to help young people realize their inherent beauty and Sugar’s mission to create empathetic, inclusive entertainment make for a highly effective partnership.

The campaign also includes a fun online personality quiz, and Dove and Sugar intend to release additional resources under the umbrella of the project, including an ebook to be released at a later date.


Shannon Miller is a writer, podcast creator and contributor to Adweek.