“I don’t have a bathing suit body,” the sweet one says as she takes off her shirt on fast forward and jumps in the pool.
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At the table later, she explains she has lost seven pounds by cutting carbs.
The girls are thirteen.
Standing behind the kitchen sink, I lean in.
We talk fruits, vegetables and strength training, but inside my mind battles. I really wish she didn’t need to do this. That instead, she knew it was okay for her to be plump because she is the most exuberant girl in the bunch — and that’s how I define beauty.
“What are complex carbohydrates?” one of the girls asks, the one who has been bouncing in here bubbly since fifth grade. I explain the difference between broccoli and white bread.
The girl in question eats fruit for breakfast, and I wonder how long this will last. In my mind, I ask why we are supposed to be proud of her dieting. Is this good or not? I wonder. Is it her genes or her jean size that we can really change?
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but that’s not what the magazines say.
As I wash dishes sudsy, I think and say quietly, “Bella, you are pretty from the inside out.” In truth, she is more beautiful than she knows.
I want to jump out of my skin and help her see what beauty is — and it’s not comparing her thighs to the girl sitting next to her (which they all do, by the way).
I want her to redefine beauty by her generosity; by her laughter that fills the sky; by her eyes, pools of humility.
I want to redefine beauty for her … by how she looks in her Father’s eyes.
The one named Beauty who thinks she’s not: I wrote this book for her, and all the tween girls out there who need a new definition of the mirror. Who need to know their value, their identity in Christ, their purpose beyond the measuring tapes and pant sizes and screen likes and shares.
At 21, I was measured by a line of judges, and the other girl’s bathing suit body beat mine. That was the last time I felt good enough in a bikini.
While the girls with “bathing suit bodies” guzzle sweet tea and crunch potato chips, I want to make a big banner of my book’s cover and hang it over the pool for this girl. (That would be kind of cool.)
It would say, “YOU ARE PRETTY FROM THE INSIDE OUT.”
That’s why I run in the mornings and eat veggies. I do it because I decided I’m worth that, not because I’m in search for worth. And that’s all I want for our girls.
Find a tween girl, and teach her value. When we know our value — when we know who we are and whose we are, everything we do flows from that, and the imperfections melt away in the light of He who loves us perfectly.
Click on the image above to grab a summer read for a girl who might need it.
Or keep one handy at home.
You never know when you’ll look up from your kitchen counter and see her sitting at your table, about to jump in the pool and fill the sky with laughter.
It is such an honor to share this post today from Jennifer Strickland on True Beauty. After we watched The Girl Perfect Documentary on Right Now Media and read the book highlighted here Pretty From the Inside Out, Jen quickly became “a favorite” of our oldest tween daughter. We highly recommend her books and studies to other girls and other women in our lives. She writes rooted in God’s word and with transparency and compassion.
I strongly feel every Tween girl should read Pretty From The Inside Out. We are with each of our girls as well. Girls today maybe more than ever need to learn about True Beauty. The True Beauty that each of them has. True Beauty that God designed purposefully in them when He knit them together! Please take some time to visit U R More and all of the resources Jennifer has to offer. You will be glad you did!
You can also enter our giveaway to win a copy of Pretty From the Inside Out!
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Jennifer Strickland is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, AND published author, speaker, and former international model. She is married to her best friend Shane, who she affectionately calls “the Cowboy.”
The Stricklands reside in Dallas – Fort Worth with their three precious children, where they stay busy with football, cheerleading, and ranching.
Jen loves to curl up with a cup of coffee, journal, and Bible — the three ingredients to her inspirational messages on faith, beauty, and all the ways God makes us “More.”
As a speaker, Jen draws upon her career as a former professional model to help women and girls find their beauty, value, identity, and purpose. Unveiling the media’s lies about women’s worth, Jen deposits true value in her listeners. She speaks on college, high school, and junior high campuses (public and private); at recovery centers, women’s prisons, sororities, and at women’s and girls’ events. She also shares her experiences at writing, speaking, and leadership conferences.
Jen is a gifted communicator. Her latest book, 21 Myths (Even Good) Girls Believe About Sex, explores the topic of sexual integrity, forgiveness, healing, and the beauty of sex in the freedom of marriage. She penned her life’s message on identity, worth, and purpose in her Beautiful Lies book, study, and leader kit for women eighteen & up; the teen version More Beautiful Than You Know, and pre-teen Pretty From the Inside Out. Jen’s incredible personal story of transformation is found in her page-turning book, Girl Perfect, which includes a Study Guide, teaching DVD, and Documentary. This series is based upon her journey as a professional model and follow the battles she waged to find the real meaning of beauty.