Tuesday, October 20, 2015

To Teenage Girls, With Love


Stop.

Stop taking photos of yourselves.  Selfies. Whatever they are called.

Just stop.

If you keep up at the rate that you are going, you will have one million pictures of yourself by the time you are twenty four!

That is a lot of you.

Too much of you.

Too much looking at yourself.

Too much doing your hair, spending hours on your makeup, dressing just right. Too much getting that perfect angle so your nose doesn't look too big, that break out doesn't show, the bangs hang just right, the lips pursed just so.  Too much posing-the legs crossed so you look thinner, the hips jutted out, the stomach sucked in, the chest out, chin down. The angle, don't forget the angle is everything-one wrong move and your stomach, oh no!  All for a photo!

Too much scrutiny, way too much pressure! What will others think of this one particular picture (out of the thousands they've already seen)?  "Is it sexy enough that I'll get enough 'likes'?  Do I look my best ever? Are my eyelashes long enough, my lips full enough, my thighs skinny enough, my complexion flawless?"

Stop.

Stop thinking about you, you, you.

Here's what you need to know:

The people who love you, truly love you, love you in person.  

That means they know what you look like in real life. They've seen you without makeup, they've seen what your hair looks like when you first wake up.  They can pick you out of a crowd of one hundred girls just by the way you swing your arms when you walk, the slightest difference in your posture. They don't have a favorite side, angle or pose. They love your real smile-the smile you use when the camera isn't on you and there is a big difference. Their hearts fill with love for you when you walk in the door. Their heart breaks with yours when something hurtful happens to you. They don't scrutinize your appearance, they care about how you are feeling inside.

And they love it the most when you aren't trying so hard to be someone else they don't even know. They love you because you are unique-they love most especially what makes you different.

And do you know when you look your best?
When you are caring for others. 

When you are listening to your grandfather talk about something that doesn't really interest you. When you are reading a book to your little brother again, or trying to decipher your toddler cousin's gibberish. When you are having an honest conversation with your parents and your eyes sparkle, when you are sharing funny stories of your friends, or what happened at work and your smile crinkles your eyes. When your face lights up instantly when you see someone you love. When you take the time to brighten the cashier's day or give a stranger a compliment, or lend a shoulder to cry on, or are friendly to shy classmate.

See, this is you...
you not thinking about you.

You are doing, sharing, learning, helping, listening to SOMEONE ELSE.

Living!

Girls, this is the key to beauty.

This is the KEY TO BEAUTY.

These are the girls real men fall in love with (the men worth marrying), these are the girls who find friendships that last a lifetime, these are girls who have the time to discover their talents and gifts and use them for the betterment of mankind, these are the girls that end up with rich fulfilling beautiful lives surrounded by those that love them for who they really are.

Don't spend so much time on your outside that you forget the real you inside, which is the source of your beauty.

Take pictures of yourself having fun with your friends but don't pose, one day you will treasure those memories and wonder where the time went.  Take candid photos with your arms around your parents, you will treasure those as well.  Make your grandparents take a selfie with you, now you will laugh, but one day you will shed tears over that photo and wish you would have asked them one hundred more questions to learn from their experiences. Take a picture of yourself with your siblings-that photo will make you crack up one day when it happens that you all find yourselves in one house again, suddenly grown up with families of your own.

There is no harm in collecting memories.

But then stop.
Become yourself by doing for others.
Live your life in service to others.

And a magical thing will happen-every day you stop thinking about you, you will become more and more beautiful. Inside and outside. If you don't believe me, just try it.

Start living and stop posing.
The world needs you desperately.

57 comments :

  1. Absolutely...I get eye rolls but I always tell my daughter that blemish she is so upset about is not noticed by anyone else...that if she smiles that is what people will focus on. I also believe giving our teens lots of avenues to helping others gets them out of their own little world. Let's face it, we have all been teens and I am so thankful social media wasn't around back then. Teenager years are tough...

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  2. Thank you ... as a mom of 5 girls, this is perfectly stated.

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  3. Amen. I have been trying to get this point across to my girls....but all they see are their friends looking fantastic...then, they obsess over how many "likes" they get. It isn't healthy, but they just roll their eyes at me. Someday they will get it. I have faith!

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  4. This post is perfect and amazing!! I even think this applies to women of all ages. Keep your eyes more on others and less on you.
    Blessings to all!!!

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  5. So beautifully said! Every girl in the world needs to read this!!

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  6. oh gosh, sarah, this is SO good!

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  7. With love -- yes! Beautifully put, Sarah!

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  8. I love this article. My daughter is only 3 and I am so scared for when she is a teenager and for whatever the big fad is in her teen years. In my HS days we had to go get the roll of film developed before we knew how cute we looked, or didn't look. no deleting and retaking. Its good to see faults and insecurities in each other, and still love each other despite what your idea of perfect is. Can I get away with never giving my daughter a cell phone??? ;)

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    1. The Warrens - - Yes, actually, you can get away with never giving your daughter a cell phone! :-) That's exactly what we have done, and our two oldest are now on their own (18 and 21) and thanked us for allowing them to have their childhoods. They have their entire adult lives to become immersed in social media and devices if they so wish. Going without it for 18 years won't kill them.

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  9. Obsession with self is never, ever a good thing. Your articulations about the dangers of such a thing need to be heard! Sadly, in this modern electronic world we live in, what matters is your "online personality" more than who you are in person, and that is one of the saddest things about this technology driven culture. You can portray who you "want" to be online, but be totally different in person. A good wake-up call for all of us really... it is more important that we nurture and prioritize our face to face relationships, rather then an "online personality". Excellent article!!!

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  10. Beautifully said!! Love this so so much!!! I can't really think of a positive result of the explosion of social media and so very many negative ones, this being one of the biggest. Sadly enough, this isn't limited to teenagers. I used to have a Facebook and Instagram account and it didn't take me long to get enough and close them. Too much nonsense I just don't want floating around in my head all the time. I was always shocked at the number of grown women who posted nearly daily photos of themselves, I just simply don't get it. Excellent post!!!

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    1. I think there are hundreds of positives to social media. The chance to see how other people live. The chance to interact with people who's views are fundamentally different than your own, to open your mind and your horizons. To connect with people you otherwise wouldn't have a chance to meet. To reconnect with people with whom you'd otherwise lose track of. Personally my faith has been ENORMOUSLY enhanced and strengthened by social media. Reading blogs and tweets of people who have dedicated their lives to God has helped me see that that's what I should be doing to. Even reading this very blog has given me an insight into what it is to live a faithful and committed life. Sure, there are enormous negatives too but I think that to dismiss it all as trite and negative is to shut yourself off from the enormous growth potentials that are out there.

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    2. Margo, I think that your points are valid ones as I, too, feel very positively influenced by certain social media outlets which I have chosen carefully. However, I also think that's true because I am mature and grounded, and I don't care how many likes or views or followers I have because my identity is fully (or mostly) formed. I think most teens are much more vulnerable to the negatives of social media than adults- which I guess is true of anything in life really.

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  11. Oh thank you. Thank you. These are the words perfectly formed from things I have been pondering and will share with every teenage girl and future mother of teenage girls I know.

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  12. Beautifully written. I taught high school for 10 years and this needs to be posted on every bulletin board.

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  13. Thank you for saying this! I will be saving this for my little girl when she is older. And, will share with my teenaged nieces now!

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  14. Sarah, this was excellent! My 13 isn't a selfie girl and I hope that never changes but this will be shared with her. I was talking with my husband the other day about this exact subject - it is challenging as a parent to deal with all of this stuff we didn't have growing up. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  15. Wow ~ Well said...As the mother of three teenagers, I agree! Hard to stay grounded in such a superficial world.

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  16. This made me tear up. My grandma passed away when I was 17. The Scrapbook i had with most of the pictures of the two of us together along with her handwritten personal history got ruined in a move. I have two maybe three pictures of just the two of us. I miss her and her wisdom dearly. I love this post so much! I work with the girls at my church ages 12-18 and I am going to share this with them.

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  17. Wonderfully stated with a perfect perspective. Bravo! I wish you could proclaim this from the rooftops as it would help so, so many girls. Excellent!

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  18. LOVE this! So beautifully said

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  19. This is truth!! You said this so well! Thank you!!

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  20. This is beautifully written and so important! Thank you for sharing!

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  21. Wow! This is so beautiful and so timely!! It's so sad to see girls spending so much time worrying about how many "likes" a picture will get them! They are losing sight of what is important!!

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  22. Love this Sarah! Thank you for sharing these truths! :)

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  23. Spot on! Oh how I love this!! Thanks for putting it so beautifully.

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  24. This is beautiful, Sarah. Thank you for sharing.

    P.S. You should put all your wisdom into a book!

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  25. I think there is a certain power to the selfie taken by a teenage girl in that she is subverting the male gaze and all the enormous issues that go along with that.

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  26. I'm going to share a link to this, I know so many teenaged girls who could benefit from this post, hopefully they will take your words to heart. Thanks for posting, Sarah.

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  27. AMEN.

    thank you for expressing this so well, powerful words!

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  28. Perfect! I just printed this and laid it on my 12 year old daughters pillow. It's not often she takes a selfie but she is only 12 and I hope to plant a seed now before it could get out of hand. I often find it embarrassing to look at a young girls selfie with the pouty lips and low cut shirts.

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  29. Wise and thought-provoking, as always, Sarah! (I'm cheering you on to write a book, also!)

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  30. This is the best post that I wish I had written, but so glad to have in my head as an arsenal during the teenage years~ thank you. I can't wait to read this again and again.

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  31. Replies
    1. I had to share this one on Facebook.

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  32. You need to do the whole world a favor and write a book!! Love everything you write and how you write it! Thank you!! : )

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  33. I'm letting my daughter read this after school today, great post!!

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  34. Great way to have worded this to teens who take selfies. I'm grateful two have two girls with smartphones who do not take endless selfies! Sad thing is that I know women my age who take selfies, and I'm 44. Vanity certainly isn't a good thing, and I'm glad you wrote this! ;-)

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  35. always coming to here to get a breath of fresh air (besides church!;))
    now, I'm off to see how much Janey has grown….so excited….

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  36. such wisdom! truly inspired--thank you!

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  37. Sarah this post gave me chills! It is SO spot on and just beautifully written. Reading this to my girls! xo

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  38. Beautiful and much needed. This goes for grown up girls too.....I see way too many grown women doing the same thing. Love this so, so much. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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  39. Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you, thank you for this. I'll read it to my daughter and then forward it on to my sisters : )

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  40. Thank you for your eloquent words. Yesterday my children's school guidance counselor shared this with the entire junior high and high school!

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  41. Oh, Sarah, thank you. THANK YOU. This is spot on, and so desperately needed. I shared it on my Facebook page; I hope it gets shared far and wide! And it makes me think that many of us middle-aged women have not set a very good example for the girls we love. . . how often have I tried to stand at just the right angle so that I'll look slim in photos? Or lamented the fact that my smile wasn't quite right or my eyes were half-closed? Whenever we make things all about ourselves or, even worse, all about the way we look, we're doing our loved ones, our communities, and ourselves a disservice. Thank you for calling a spade a spade in such a loving, gracious way!

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  42. I think some mommas need this too. I admit, I love me some IG (of course, I'm not trying to be sexy...) but I guess I am setting an example. Thank you, Sarah.

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  43. Just read this for the first time and all I can say is Amen and Amen! John 3:30, "He must increase but I must decrease!"

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