published Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Baumgardner: Moms must talk to young daughters

Have you ever asked your daughter for her definition of beauty? From the thigh gap and bikini bridge to pictures of Photoshopped models, confusing and deceiving messages bombard young girls on a daily basis.

If you have looked at the latest issue of Seventeen magazine or tried to find a girly-girl outfit for your young daughter that doesn’t look too grown up, then you know some of the challenges faced by girls today. The pressure to fit in and be beautiful according to our culture’s standards is huge.

For those who don’t know, the thigh gap is the open space at the top of a girl’s inner thighs when she stands with her feet and knees together; the bikini bridge appears when a woman lies on her back and her hip bones lift the front of her bikini up. Both are much-sought-after signs of thinness.

Dannah Gresh is the creator of the wildly successful tour, Secret Keeper Girl, a mother/daughter experience, and the author of “Lies Young Women Believe.”

“The thigh gap and bikini bridge are not possible without starvation,” Gresh says. “Our bodies were not made to naturally do that. Unfortunately, many girls don’t realize the pictures in the magazines are not real. They starve themselves and do crazy things to look like these images because that is what the culture portrays as beautiful.”

Gresh says she started Secret Keeper Girl out of a desire to help her daughter navigate the tween years differently than she had. “I wanted her to understand her value in God’s eyes and His definition of beauty versus how the culture defines it because that is fleeting.”

More than 500,000 girls between 8 and 13 years old, along with their moms or another significant woman in their life, have attended the Secret Keeper Girl shows and are armed with accurate information as they approach the teen years. One mom said, “This event opened my eyes to how often I, as an adult, say negative things about myself. I don’t want my daughter growing up with that kind of image.”

Through Secret Keeper Girl’s high-energy, over-the-top experience, moms can do things differently with their own daughters.

From tender mother-daughter moments to crazy skits and teachable moments, the faith-based show lays a foundation for ongoing open dialogue between mothers and daughters during what can be a very challenging time.

The Secret Keeper Girl Crazy Hair Tour will be in Chattanooga on Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Chattanooga Convention Center and is sponsored by First Things First. For more information about the tour or talking to your tween daughter, visit firstthings.org.

Email Julie Baumgardner, president and CEO of First Things First, at julieb @firstthings.org.

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