Today, I have with me my new friend at met at She Speaks 2012, Maria Furlough. Be sure to check out our give away at the bottom!
By: Maria Furlough
Yup! This is me at 13 years old. Who knew? Who knew that this beautiful, young, innocent 13 year old girl thought she was fat and immeasurably imperfect. I cannot emphasize enough how sad it makes me to look back at this photo and think about how much I hated looking in the mirror. I think about how I overly analyzed every small detail of my body and had a long list of attributes that needed drastic changing. But my sadness is not for the girl you see in this photo and the loss of her innocence…the sadness comes from the realization that every single day young girls everywhere go to war on themselves over the way they think that they look. I so badly don’t want them to be like me.
It seems hopeless. Physical beauty has seemingly won over the hearts of every teenage heart from here to Timbuktu. Insecurity now seems like a rite of passage, something we all just deal with on a daily basis. Call me naive or call me unrealistically optimistic…but I sincerely believe that things are going to change. Something is broken in our culture if the young lady in this picture, the young lady in your home looks in the mirror and thinks one word: fat.
The good news is that you, Mom, are your daughter’s greatest hope. God has given you to her for such a time as this. Will you join me in taking tiny steps towards helping our daughters, this next generation of women, be secure in who God created them?
Tiny Step 1 Take a verbal stance against physical beauty obsessions in your home. When I was in college I finally sought out some help for myself. I had hit rock bottom with obsessive dieting and taking diet pills, so I decided to seek counsel. The most valuable thing he said to me had to do with the home environment I lived in. He told to me go home and ask my parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles to stop making comments about my physical appearance…good or bad. Negative comments fed my insecurities and positive comments motivated me to continue with my destructive habits. There is nothing wrong with adoring, admiring, and appreciating the beauty of the women around us, but may our praises always remember that beauty does not always need to be physical.
Tiny Step 2 Give your own mind a break. I love Lynn’s mantra: Wise Moms, Wiser Daughters. Unfortunately, I believe it also applies to insecurity. Insecure Mom, More Insecure Daughters. Daughters watch their moms, they learn from them and model what they see in them. This is not to say they would ever let you know it! In reading Your Daughter Needs a Hero my mother was shocked that I paid such intense attention to everything she did and said. Challenge yourself to think about how you much you dwell on your own looks. Where does your confidence lie?
Tiny Step 3 Decide what you truly believe about beauty. A couple of years ago I set out on this journey to minister to young women and I noticed a saying that was often flung around “True beauty lies on the inside.” I flung it around too, why not? Then I thought about it one day, “Do I actually believe it?” After all, I was guiltier than the next person at sizing people up according to their looks. Truth is, people say the right thing all the time…that it doesn’t matter how you look or what size you are. But then why are we surrounded by a world obsessed with physical perfection? I believe that there is only one thing that is truly beautiful in this world: Christ in US. When I see Jesus in the sunset, that’s what makes it beautiful. When I look at my daughter and see God’s handiwork in her smile, that’s what makes her so breathtaking. When I look at myself in the mirror, and I see firsthand the redemptive work God has done in me, that’s what makes me gorgeous.
I pray that this just be the beginning for us. I could sit here and write and write for hours about how far God has brought me since this picture was taken. Today, I can proudly put this picture up on my wall with the caption “Wonderfully and Perfectly Made.” Because of this, because of the huge work of healing God has done in my life, I know that there is hope for our daughters. A hope of a different future where the decisions we make are based on strength and confidence instead of insecurity.
Today we’re giving away a signed copy of Maria’s book Your Daughter Needs a Hero; Helping Her Handle Insecurity & Poor Body Image. To enter, just click on “comments” below (if you are receiving this by e-mail, you’ll need to go to www.LynnCowell.com) and share which of the three steps is most difficult for you. If you are short on time, simply comment, “I’m in”. I’ll share the winner on my Friday post!
Maria Furlough is author of Your Daughter Needs a Hero, as well as wife, mother, speaker, and minister to youth through www.trueworthministries.org. Maria works with teenagers to help them wade through the mucky waters of adolescence armed with the power of God’s truth. She has been in youth ministry for ten years and focuses on inspiring young women to seek out their true worth in Christ in order to overpower the burden of insecurity and poor body image. Maria lives in North Carolina with her wonderful husband Dave, and three beautiful, itty bitty children (Faith 5 yrs, David 3 yrs, and Aaron 8 months old).