A Note from Lifeway Girls: Welcome to a new year, where social media is blasting all the latest diet trends that you and your teen girls “need” to do to fit in, be beautiful, and have value in this world. Evidence-based studies have shown that the pressure of the diet culture have lead to the exact opposite—lifelong eating disorders and self-image problems. Kelly shares how the culture of dieting causes our girls to doubt their beauty and self-worth. Therefore, we must learn how to use the Word of God to speak truth over the loud lies of the diet culture.
We live in a world that is constantly telling us what our worth and value should be. We feel the pressure to be more than we are just to be accepted or even loved. Growing up, I struggled with this idea of not being enough, because honestly I did not look like everyone else. To me, all of my friends were beautiful because they wore a size 0, 2, or 4. I cheered, I played basketball, and loved being active; however, I thought participating in those activities would make me feel pretty. Instead, the thoughts of comparison began and had me questioning who I was and what I could be.
From movies to, at that, time magazines—haha—there was a consistent message telling women that they must be skinny to be loved, accepted, and successful. Eating disorders were not discussed but instead became a casual joke. This was the mindset I grew up learning and sadly began to believe. I will never forget the first time standing in the bathroom with a group of my friends as we touched up our makeup. The thoughts that were said aloud were critical and demeaning toward our own bodies. We thought it was okay and we held on to the hurt and judgement of others, but this is not the mindset we should have at all.
I’m here to tell you how influential your position is right now with your teen girls. The words you speak, the behaviors you model, and the truths you teach them are vital to their entire well-being. Therefore, the next time you have a girl that is feeling discouraged by the number that is seen on the scale or what she may see in the mirror, share (or shout!) these truths about who she truly is according to the Word of God:
- Genesis 1:26-27—Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
- 1 Samuel 16:7—But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
- Psalm 139:13-16—For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
These verses describe the girls who you are called to lead. So whether if she has been skipping meals, eating everything in sight, worrying about not being accepted, feeling like something is wrong with her, please remind her that her worth is far greater than what she weighs. No matter if dieting has been a struggle for her in the past or one she is currently facing, it is important to remind her of these three statements:
She is wanted. She is enough. She is not alone.
My biggest encouragement to you as a leader is to be ready. Be ready to see the insecurities your girls and their friends are battling. We know that who we surround ourselves with makes a lasting impact on our lives. Be ready to have the hard conversations. Then pray for wisdom before you speak and do not avoid the hard questions that will need to be asked. Be ready to listen to her feelings and thoughts. Listen so she feels heard. This should result in a trusting relationship that offers you the opportunity to speak encouragement and offer accountability in her life.
Lastly, be ready to lead and live by example. Your girls watch and listen to you more than what you may realize. As leaders, we need to be grounded in Scripture and live in a way that glorifies God in all that we do. This culture of “dieting” does not have to be accepted the way the world wants us to feel accepted. Instead we can be confident in knowing that we have been accepted because of the never-ending love of Christ.
Kelly McKinley serves on staff at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She loves iced lattes and is constantly in the mood for a random road trip. Her heartbeat for the gospel has lead her to ministry opportunities from Haiti to Memphis and many places in between, focusing mostly on reaching young women in the Nashville area. Her past is one that has been scattered with grief, loss, anxiety, and depression but has been captivated by our need for Jesus in a world where these ailments run rampant. Only by the grace of God is she now able to encourage individuals to be confident in knowing that life is truly worth living. Her heart’s desire is to point others to Christ while they are grieving in grace.
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