Wednesday, January 28, 2009

girls & self-esteem

today i ran across this article:

and while i agree with the author, for me, as a woman and a youth worker, there's a piece that is neglected.

the author says at the end:

"As we spend time with our kids, we should teach what "self-esteem" truly means and what it doesn't mean. Our girls don't need to try to measure up to an impossible standard that the world has created. We need to remind our girls that God doesn't care about outward appearance- he cares about the heart (I Sam. 16:7). Students need to be careful who they are listening to, what they are watching, and ultimately, what they believe. And it's up to us to help them do that.

In addition, we must help them understand that everybody has problems; it is how we deal with them that makes or breaks us. Low self-esteem is a reality for far too many girls, but they need to be lovingly reminded that everybody faces problems in life. If teenagers learn to handle their problems responsibly, they will soon see that their quality of life drastically improves. If they don't, they can make matters worse. Self-destruction will never be the solution for low self-esteem."

the neglected bit is what kind of culture do we create in our ministries for our girls? as women, what do we model for them? the highlighted bit in the quote above touches on it, but i want to unpack that a little. what i mean by this is:
  • are girls of all shapes and sizes given the opportunity to be up front? whether it's for games, student leadership roles, reading Scripture or whatever?
  • are there women leaders of all ages, shapes and sizes working with the girls in your group?
  • as women leaders, are we talking about this diet, that diet or negatively about our own bodies in front of the girls? or do we talk about nutrition or the things we do like about our bodies?
  • when we compliment girls, are we complimenting their appearance more than their character? or do we notice and compliment their character most?
creating opportunities for girls to serve is important and does help their self-esteem. but they also need us to create ministries that celebrate all girls no matter their appearance, personality or intellect. the world tells girls continuously that they must be smart, thin and gorgeous. but having our youth ministries be places where none of that matters, where girls are loved just as they are, will help girls hear and understand the whisper of God that says "you are my beautiful creation that i love!"

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