Every once in awhile it seems like there is a resurrgence of the need for young ladies to have good “self esteem,” according to media. It started a couple of years ago with the “Dove: Real Beauty Campaign,” which continues to produce “mini movies” to support their cause exploring why women and girls struggle to think they are “beautiful.” Recently secular songs like, “Try” by Colbie Callait, “Secrets,” by Mary Lambert and “All About That Base” by Meghan Trainor all celebrate women “being themselves,” (whether we like the lyrics or not.) Even American Eagle Outfitters and their partner store “Arie” has agreed to no longer photo shop their (still waif like) models with their own “Real Beauty” campaign.
Of course while the songs, and videos are empowering it does not make a young girl’s insecurity merely disappear. I saw a documentary recently where a publisher claimed that almost 90% of pictures in any given celebrity magazine are altered in some way. In the church we “know” our identity should be in Christ, and yet still when surveyed most women would change at least “one” thing on our bodies if possible.
Yes, yes, what a mother shows to her child effects her. Yet, the answer seems to be to simply just tell young women all the time how much we love our bodies. How can we do that when it’s rarely true?
The time has come to honestly and openly deal with this self image issue in our young women.
Voices DO Matter:
As much as the “American Eagle Real Beauty” campaign agrees to “not photoshop” it’s models there is no denying they are still gorgeous, and near perfect at size 0. Voices all around are saying to us girls (and guys btw) what “looking good” means. There is a fine line between actual health and obsession with beauty. The voices in their head that they play over and again matters most. Let’s keep speaking truth into our girls. Give them PRACTICAL ways they can get the truth of what God thinks of them. (Suggest putting sticky notes with Bible verses on their mirrors from places like Pslam 139.)
When is the last time the encouragement, “Be better,” was actually helpful in your own life? I think part of the “undoing” of this issue lies in us being truthful of our own struggles while at the same time pointing to Christ. All of us poke at something in the mirror. Merely, “pretending” like we don’t have image issues does not make it go away. Let’s be honest with our struggles, let’s also keep looking to Christ for the “real” answers. (Talk to students about where your insecurities come from and HOW you rely on God in the midst of the struggle.)
Don’t Embrace the Lies
“They’ll get over it,” is what we like to say about teen girls. Probably not. I think more often we as women just come to terms with the fact that the media is going to tell us how “wrong”we are and we will always simply dislike something about ourselves. We may have forgotten to look in the mirror and see ourseleves reflecting the image of God. (Take the time to stop and tell the young women in your life exactly WHAT God REALLY thinks about them.)
Let’s celebrate our girls. Let’s tell them things we think are extraordinary about them, beyond the way they look. Celebrate their talents, gifts, and successes. They are always enough for the Lord. The list of what He loves about them has no end. Remember, it feels easiest to control our appearance, it’s why we “go” there. . Pushing the thought that we aren’t enough aside doesn’t make it leave. Help them learn how to look in the mirror and see the Creator’s created.
How are you dealing with this issue?