Empowering Young Women
When I was thinking about my post for this week, I kept trying to think of the kind of women I've been leaving out. I've thought about the woman on the go who needs a quick beauty routine, the college student on a tight budget, and the insecure woman that we are all too familiar with. Then, I thought about my favorite girl in the world: my sister. That's when I realized that when we read and write about the empowerment of women, we often times forget about the little women that live all around us. They're our sisters, daughters, nieces, the girls we babysit, our elementary students, even just the little girl who lives in our neighborhood. We are surrounded by the potential of great women all around us and we unfortunately forget about their need for empowerment just like us. I remember when I was probably five or six years old, I begged and prayed for a little sister, and when I was eight, I finally got one. She was the apple of my eye and I was in love the moment I saw her. She's hilarious, sassy, smart, and an incredibly deep thinker. She also has Down Syndrome. My entire mission as her sister has revolved around making sure she is confident in who she is and never setting boundaries for herself just because she has a "disability."
Unfortunately, what I've come to realize is that my sister is fed with all the same lies that all of our other little girls are fed with. They are constantly being bombarded by lies through society at the most tender of ages and it does a great deal of damage. We, as women of the King, have an incredible opportunity to empower our little women to see their one-of-a-kind beauty and to love themselves the way God loves them. With the empowerment of young girls comes a future generation of strong women who won't look to the world or relationships as their validation of worth and beauty, because they'll already know the what they deserve and won't be willing to settle for anything less. Just imagine a generation of teenage and adult women who don't struggle with eating disorders, running to the next boyfriend, or the constant comparisons to other people. When we think about the power and influence that women possess, let us not forget the little girls who look to us as well. Here are some simple ways we can all influence and empower the next generation of women who will awaken movements, inspire change, and display the love of God for the world to see:
- Compliments That Matter. I'm not just talking about the usual, "Your outfit is so cute today!" I'm talking about complimenting their actual beauty. Their smiles, their sweet little laughs, their dimples. I love telling my sister that her little round eyes are pretty. The one physical feature that makes her look a little different from everyone else is the one that is the most beautiful. Girls change out of outfits and take down their hairstyles, but their smiles, laughs, dimples, and eyes all last forever. And they're beautiful. Also, never forget the features that actually do matter: how kind they are, how smart they are, how funny they are. Girls need to know they are beautifully made, but they also need to know that they have so much more to offer to this world than just what's on the outside.
- Affirmations. Giving a little girl a positive mantra or little reminder of how special they are can make the difference in their day. Maybe she has a hard test that day and just needs to be reminded of how intelligent and capable she is. Maybe she's just feeling a little insecure and needs to know that she is perfectly made whole in all that she is. Also, make her find something she loves about her own self. Maybe she thinks she's funny and makes people smile, or maybe she loves her curly hair. Whatever it is, she'll learn to focus on her positive traits instead of looking in the mirror and seeing all of her flaws. I'm a huge believer in positive affirmations for adults, and children are no different. Teaching them to think positively can be something that sticks with them forever.
- Practical Lessons. Sure, the daily and nightly routine of brushing their teeth, brushing their hair, eating all their vegetables at dinner is tedious, but it's a great opportunity to instill in them that their bodies are temples and worth taking care of. When they take the time out to care for themselves, they take care of their health and get to pamper themselves a little. (Every time I take my sister for a walk, I remind her that it makes her healthy, which she now reminds me and my parents of every time we go for walks.) God molded and stitched every fiber of their being when He created them. They are jewels in the eyes of the Lord and deserve to treat themselves as such.
- Be An Example. They look to us for so many things, so be the face of a woman who is completely confident in who she is through God. Take care of yourself. Pamper yourself a little or take the time out to do something you love. Accept other people's compliments. When they see you, they see a woman who sees her worth and lives it. You don't need validation from others. You know you're beautiful, strong, influential, kind, wise, and loving. You live powerfully through the life that is within you. Little girls will look to you and see the woman they will become. They look to you and see the love of God flowing through you and the power you possess. Be for them love, wisdom, virtue, kindness, and strength. Be for them the face of our Redeemer and King.