published Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Baumgardner: Teaching girls the truth about beauty

By Julie Baumgardner

A study conducted by Stacey Tantleff-Dunn at the University of Central Florida found that nearly half of girls ages 3 to 6 worry about being fat, and about one-third would change a physical attribute, such as their weight or hair color.

Few would argue that girls of all ages are bombarded with messages of how they should look and dress and what defines beautiful. Based on these definitions, they begin a lifelong quest to be beautiful, often doing things that are not healthy and that could impact them for the rest of their lives.

"I was a mom who didn't look in the mirror to put on makeup because I couldn't stand what I would see," said Dannah Gresh, speaker and author of "And the Bride Wore White and Lies Young Women Believe." "I wasn't ugly, but I believed the lies [our] culture spreads about beauty. As a teen, I had made some unhealthy decisions in an effort to look and feel beautiful. I hoped that my 9-year-old daughter, Lexi, would make different choices."

In an effort to fill Lexi's heart with truth, Gresh put together an event at her church for her daughter and her friends and their moms to talk about truth concerning body image and beauty. Getting this information to the girls before they launched into the teen years was critical.

"I wanted to plant truth so deeply in them that the world's lies could not penetrate," said Gresh.

In addition to the event, Gresh designed eight dates for moms and daughters that built on what they learned at the event and provided an opportunity for moms to discuss topics like boys, mean girls and their daughters' changing bodies.

"Lexi's response to her teen years was totally opposite mine," said Gresh. "She didn't struggle with boy craziness. She was pulling her friends off the boy crazy train. She had the same beauty issues I did, but she wasn't afraid to look in the mirror. She was much more self-controlled and made healthier decisions."

After the church event, moms asked Gresh to provide the experience for other girls. That's when Secret Keeper Girl was born. Almost 450,000 girls across the country have shared this experience and are armed with accurate information.

"Research indicates that when a mom plants these truths in her daughter's heart, she will do better when it comes to navigating the tumultuous teen years," said Gresh.

The Secret Keeper Girl Live! Pajama Party Tour is coming to Chattanooga on Jan. 26 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Convention Center.

"Moms and daughters will have a great time digging into truth about their body, beauty and boys," said Gresh. "Imagine confetti flying everywhere, the world's largest beach ball being bounced overhead, two fantastic fashion shows where we take some of the seasons' upcoming fashions and model how to wear them, and time spent showing girls how they can replace the lies of the world with truth written in God's word. It is high-energy, inspirational and life-changing."

For more information about Secret Keeper Girl Live! Pajama Party, visit www.firstthings.org.

And yes, girls and their moms can wear pajamas.

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