Gabrielle Union opens up about overcoming low self-esteem and her advice to other parents

The actress spoke with "GMA" about her journey toward building self-esteem.

May 04, 2022, 4:10 AM

Amongst many other titles, Gabrielle Union is a wife, mother, actress and the ultimate advocate for helping others boost their self-esteem.

The "Cheaper by the Dozen" star opened up to "GMA" about her own personal journey. She shared that as a young girl while it outwardly seemed that she was incredibly confident, her inner world felt vastly different.

"It appeared that I was sitting on top of the world, I had all the answers, I felt amazing about myself," said Union. "But inside, as a Black girl in predominantly non-minority spaces, I felt like I was never enough of anything. I was...I always felt way too black. I felt way too intelligent. I felt too, I felt very scrutinized."

"It's a weird thing to feel invisible and hyper visible all at once," Union added. She went on to explain how that hyper-visibility and inner battle with low self-esteem continued on with her until she reached her mid-forties.

PHOTO: Gabrielle Union opened up to "GMA" about her personal self-esteem journey and her advice to parents looking to help boost their children's confidence.
Gabrielle Union opened up to "GMA" about her personal self-esteem journey and her advice to parents looking to help boost their children's confidence.
courtesy of Dove, photographed by Nino Munoz

Union, who is now 49, overcame her struggles with low self-esteem by coming to the realization that all of the things you think will make your life easier won't if you aren't truly happy on the inside.

As someone who has traveled the world and done all of the things she thought would make her life smoother and more lucrative, embracing herself on the inside is what truly helped her step into the confident woman she is today — and now she is passing some of her self-esteem boosting rituals along to her children.

Union, who has a three-year-old daughter named Kaavia James Union Wade, recites affirmations with her such as: "Your Black is beautiful." "Your hair is beautiful." "Your skin, your lips, everything that makes you you is absolutely beautiful and amazing."

In partnership with Dove, she is encouraging other parents to do the same self-care practices by sharing resources needed and important conversations to have with their teens.

Through new research commissioned by the personal care brand's Self-Esteem Project, it was revealed that teens are consuming toxic beauty advice in their social media feeds – and it is having a negative impact.

The study also revealed that 80% of girls would like their parents to talk to them about how to manage idealized beauty advice on social media, illuminating the need for help and resources.

Influenced by those statistics, Union suggests being completely active when it comes to children's social media engagement.

"There's so many other ways that our children can be harmed, and especially our girls. And they also have to understand that the people that you're comparing yourself to, especially the people that you don't know, they don't look like what they present themselves to be," Union said.

She continued by reiterating the importance of explaining to kids that chasing an aesthetic doesn't make your dreams come true if you don't feel good about yourself.

"We all want to present this fictionalized version of ourselves to social media, but I don't always think we understand the harmful effects of doing that," said Union. "And you know, for our girls, they need to understand that it's not real. And it's okay to be exactly you because it will get you a lot further than pretending to be someone else and always feeling less than."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events