At what age does our culture say it is ok to go on a diet?  I found myself in a conversation with a junior high-aged girl who was trying to lose weight.  As I reflected on that conversation later, it made me wonder about when it becomes socially ok to start being concerned with the number on a scale.  First of all, how are these girls deciding what an acceptable number is?  I have so much to learn about this age group, but the more I thought about it the more worried I became.  Teen girls are so fragile when it comes to body image that we must be so careful what we say and how we act.  I didn’t know what to say during the conversation I had, but here are a few thoughts that I had after the fact that I would have wanted her to know:

  • YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!  You are valuable whether you are an XS or an XL.  The God who created you takes delight in you and made you unique, and that is a wonderful thing.  Don’t let numbers or sizes be the definition of beautiful.  For the adults:  don’t let numbers or sizes be the definition of beautiful either.  Your comments about numbers and sizes are heard and remembered.
  • Your body is doing what is was made to do.  It is going through a time of change so that you have the ability to one day have children.  I know you don’t care about this now, but it is normal and healthy.  YOU WILL AND SHOULD GAIN WEIGHT.  That is part of growing up.  No one I know of is the same weight that they were in middle school, and that is a good thing.  For the adults:  Let the doctor say what is a healthy weight.  Don’t compare girls to their friends because everyone goes through this time of change at a different age and a different rate.  
  • Be active and have fun!  Did you know that exercise can actually be fun?!  Find something active that you love and do it!  Do it with your friends, because anything you do with friends makes it more enjoyable.  For the adults:  let kids be kids.  Sports are great, but when the days of organized sports are over, they need to know there is more to life than sports.  The more fun they have when they are young, the more likely they will be to keep playing sports after the trophies stop accumulating on their bookshelf.  
  • I get it, you love junk food.  I was the same way!  Food that is good for you can also taste really good.  God gave us food to enjoy, so go ahead and enjoy–but learning how to say no to yourself when you want more is a skill that will really do you good in life, and I am not only talking about with food.  Health might not be that important to you right now, but try your best not to take it for granted.  For the adults:  Offer kids food that is healthy, and eat healthy yourself.  Ultimately, they will decide what they eat and are going to need to learn healthy eating habits for themselves.
I am sure most of you are much wiser than I when it comes to interacting with pre-teen and teen-aged girls, so I would love to hear your wisdom.  I am saddened by many things I see and hear, and have such a heart for girls to know and learn that beauty is so much more than a pretty face or a certain size. 

“…for the Lord delights in you.”  Isaiah 62:4

This is me in middle school.  It is such an impressionable age for girls and I pray for those
who are raising daughters and are in this stage of life.

Check out my Thunder Thighs post as well if you are interested in this topic.

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