Dear Dad and Mum,
Being a teen girl can be very confusing. Without warning, our bodies have started to change. Our hips, chest, and thighs are growing, and we’re not sure if we’ll like how we look when these changes end. Some of our friends have developed faster, and it’s difficult not to compare. We’ve discovered the horrors of stretch marks and pimples, and it doesn’t do much for our self-esteem.
At this age, we’re more conscious of our appearance than ever before. How we look and what people think of us has never been this important. Please understand that we don’t choose to think this way. In a world that tells us that image is everything, that is exactly what we have come to believe.
We need you to encourage us to be beautiful not just on the outside, but on the inside as well.
It’s hard for us to fully understand that the picture of the girl that gets 100 likes on Instagram is not a true representation of her life. Or that the girl with the beautiful face and slim body doesn’t have the perfect life.
And we definitely haven’t quite grasped the truth of Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Give Us This Day 13
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Right now, all we know is that we want to be that girl in school, on that catwalk, in that TikTok video—and even though we know it’s unattainable, we will try.
We also don’t know it yet, but we need your assurance. We need you to tell us that we’re beautiful, even if we don’t feel that way. We need you to encourage us to be beautiful not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. We need you to destroy the lies that we are not good enough. We need you to speak truth into our lives.
We need you to speak truth into our lives.
We probably won’t believe you now (I mean, you are our parents, after all—you have to think we’re beautiful!). But someday it will sink in, and we will thank you for lovingly building us up.
So, the next time you catch us trying on multiple outfits before going out, or wanting to try on make-up—basically spending more time than you think we should on our appearance—please be patient with us.
We don’t yet have the security and confidence that you have in Christ. Nor do we have the hindsight and perspective shaped by God’s Word when it comes to our looks or achievements.
We don’t yet have the security and confidence that you have in Christ. Nor do we have the hindsight and perspective shaped by God’s Word when it comes to our looks or achievements. It will take the Holy Spirit, your prayers and counsel, and time for us to get there.
If you tell us we are beautiful, and treat us like we are, one day we will feel like it’s true, and act like it. And when we have our own daughters, we too will teach her to love herself the way you taught us to love ourselves.
Your teenage daughter
PS: These are ten things you should never say to us (all based on real-life examples):
- “Have you considered exercising lately?” (Right after glancing at our tummy)
- “Your sister is so pretty!” (We hear it as: “She’s prettier than you!”)
- “Have you put on weight?” or “Have you lost weight?” (We might hear it as a suggestion that we were too heavy before)
- “Your hips are so big/small! That’s very good/bad for giving birth in future . . .”
- “What did you do to your hair???”
- “Are you doing anything about your pimples?”
- “Why does your _______ (fill in body part) look like that?”
- “You haven’t lost your baby fat yet, huh?” (As you squeeze our cheeks/arms—remember that we’re now a teen, not a child anymore!)
- If you’re a lady: “Your bust is still quite small for your age!”
- “You looked better when you had _______ (no braces, longer hair, etc.)”
Read Part 2 of this two-part series on teenage girls and body-image here.
This article was originally published in Impact Magazine, vol. 38 no. 3.
Adapted with permission.