teenwire.com recently chatted with Dominique Dawes — a three-time Olympian (2000,1996, and 1992) who helped clinch the United States’ first-ever team gold medal in gymnastics at the 1996 Olympic Games. She has won more national championship medals than any other athlete — female or male — as well as four world championship medals.
Want more? Check out the Archives for more Action.
Dominique has recently teamed up with Girl Scouts of the USA and Unilever to be the spokesperson for the uniquely ME! program. She’s on a crusade to raise awareness about low self-esteem in girls and the problems it can cause.
According to Dr. Harriet S. Mosatche, director of program development at the Girl Scouts of the USA, “Self-esteem is very often at the bottom of other issues like eating disorders, risky sexual behaviors, and using drugs. Those are real issues that girls have to deal with.”
“Both negative and positive attitudes are contagious; make sure to surround yourself with positive ones.”teenwire.com (tw): Dominique, what are some fun details you can tell us about yourself?
Dominique Dawes: My favorite movie is I Am Sam. My favorite food is egg whites and spinach, and my favorite musical artists are Whitney Houston and Celine Dion.
tw: What would you say were the biggest challenges you faced in becoming an Olympic gold medallist? Dominique: Whenever you set a big goal in life, there will always be a lot of obstacles. I had to learn how to overcome injuries, go to the gym every day, and at the same time have a positive attitude on workouts and competition.
tw: Did you ever face the stereotypes girls often encounter when they play sports?
Dominique: People would call me a tomboy when I was really young, and it was heartbreaking at the time. But I’ve come to realize that being a tomboy is a beautiful thing and a valuable asset. Predecessors like Jackie Joyner-Kersee made this realization possible, and I’m grateful because it’s helped me shed the self-doubt that a lot of peers have put on me.
tw: What do you feel are the greatest issues facing young girls in America today?
Dominique: Body image, falling into peer pressure, not sticking out in the crowd, and facing fears are big issues. Young girls should know that they can be all they want to be, and that they don’t have to worry about what other people are going to say. tw: Why is low self-esteem among young girls such a big issue?
Dominique: Low self-esteem in young girls can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, and falling under peer pressure. I myself have experienced issues of low self-esteem, and it complicated my life at several points. But I had positive influences, like my coach Kelli Hill, who helped me persevere and break through, so that low self-esteem wouldn’t take control.
tw: Could you describe the uniquely ME! program and your role in it?
Dominique: The uniquely ME! program is targeted toward helping girls deal with today’s self-esteem issues. We’ll be working closely with 13 different Girl Scout chapters across the USA and in Puerto Rico. The program focuses on having girls learn how to celebrate themselves, surround themselves with positive people, and push themselves to be all they can be. I’ll be making myself available to young girls through online chats and personal visits to Girl Scouts chapters.
tw: What are some tips you would give to young girls for building self-esteem?
Dominique: Dig deep inside and celebrate yourself. Find out who you are as a person and what’s good about you. Both negative and positive attitudes are contagious; make sure to surround yourself with positive ones. I used to make up little sayings like “D3,” which stands for determination, dedication, and desire. I’d spray that with shaving cream on a mirror whenever I had tough challenges ahead, and it gave me the inner strength to dig deep inside. (I stained many mirrors in my days.)