BEAUTIFUL ME... The Emma, Alyson, and Katie Hance Project

There is a sad statistic we would like to share with you: Only 2 percent of women think they are beautiful.

There are 31 million girls under the age of 14 in our country, many of whom will battle issues of distorted body image, bullying, and low self-esteem. The White House Council on Women and Girls estimates that after the age of 12, more girls than boys will report experiencing depression. Ninety percent of teenage girls want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance. According to the Census Bureau, women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. And, maybe most sadly, in today's society, 81 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat.

This fall, New York City becomes the first major city in the nation to tackle the issue of girls' self-esteem and body image. Recognizing that girls as young as 6 and 7 are struggling with body image and self-esteem, New York City is launching a self-esteem initiative to help girls believe their value comes from their character, skills, and attributes -- not appearance. The initiative is called the NYC Girls Project.

We applaud Mayor Bloomberg on his efforts to raise awareness about self-esteem issues for girls. He not only spelled out some of the problems but he is presenting solutions.

BEAUTIFUL ME is our answer, our contribution, our antidote to the self-esteem crisis for women and girls. BEAUTIFUL ME is a curriculum-based self-esteem program for women and girls launched by our organization, the Hance Family Foundation, in 2010. The foundation has a mission so vital to us no single word can describe it: to honor the lives of our three beautiful daughters, Emma, Alyson and Katie, by ensuring healthy, happy and safe children through innovative self-esteem educational programming. Through BEAUTIFUL ME, our organization has already reached more than 7,000 girls with content-based lesson plans such as: Emma's Example, Alyson's Art, and Katie's Kindness. Each lesson is designed to teach girls of all ages how to think positively and with assurance about their bodies, their skills, and their relationships with others. What's best is these programs are implemented at schools, universities and in communities on a volunteer basis by passionate and skilled educators and social workers. BEAUTIFUL ME started in our hometown of Floral Park, New York and has now spread all the way to Paris, France.

If we all work together, we can eradicate the crisis of low self-esteem and inequity for women and girls and empower them to reach their full potential.

Jackie and Warren Hance are Co-Presidents of the Hance Family Foundation. The Hance Family Foundation was formed to honor the memories of their daughters, Emma, Alyson and Katie Hance, who died in a car accident on July 26, 2009 at the ages of 8, 7 and 5.