A Young Woman’s Identity Part 1

Recently I taught a series of lessons for middle school girls at a local independent school. We wanted to address social media, where a young woman finds her value, how to navigate living in a sexually charged culture, and discuss openly why anxiety and depression are skyrocketing among young women their age. Girls are more anxious than ever, more depressed, more likely to commit suicide than boys and more focused on their appearance and their sexuality than in past generations. As a mother to a teenage girl and a teacher to young teens, these things are a constant concern. At a time in history where women have more opportunity than ever before, why is there so much confusion and hurt? What is the underlying issue within culture that is wreaking havoc on girlhood?

Statistics point to this confusion. Teen girls experience anxiety about their lives twice as much as boys. Suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high. Eating disorders and depression continue to rise. Experts offer many reasons for this including social media, body negativity (from comparing themselves), hormonal change, and pressure to be perfect in appearance, achievement and social acceptance. Some of the solutions offered by experts include teaching healthy self-esteem or participating in sports. When you look at a young woman in the face who dislikes her body or feels alone and isolated to the point of anxiety, encouraging her to play soccer is a dismal solution. We are missing something.

During adolescence young women (and men) are neurologically hardwired to seek value, to seek meaning and to understand their purpose. We call this growing up. Their bodies are changing but so are their minds. During this time in their life they want to understand why they are here,what purpose they have and how they fit in. They are seeking their identity. We are struggling as a community and a culture to offer them what they need to develop a healthy identity.

In 2003 before the iPhone and social media the Commission for Children at Risk published a study outlining the concern that exists in culture as well as strategies to combat rising depression and anxiety in young people. Called Hardwired to Connect, scientists and social scientists in conjunction with Dartmouth Medical School published the study. It sites growing isolation and failing community structures as part of the crisis. The recommendations come in part as the result of a biological finding: “The Commission is basing its recommendations on recent scientific findings suggesting that children are biologically “hardwired” for enduring attachments to other people and for moral and spiritual meaning.”

Their suggestions include the need adolescents have for loving, “authoritative community.” Essentially, the study concludes a young person benefits from community, faith, authority and love. More recently, an article published by Harvard press called, “Religious Upbringing linked to better health and well-being in early adulthood”came to a similar conclusion. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/religious-upbringing-adult-health/

As a mom, a science teacher, and a fashion model I began teaching Redeeming Beauty to this particular group of young women with certain objectives: To understand the cultural messages that are subconsciously shaping and mis guiding their thoughts. To promote right thinking about their bodies and their souls. To provide tools to navigate a toxic culture. However, when I stood in front of them I was reminded they need something much deeper. They need the truth of who they are and why they are here. They need to be told and retold of their purpose and their hope.They need a strong word, a strong community, and truth spoken and lived out through people who love them. A strong identity does not come about through positive thoughts and self esteem or playing sports or through affirmation on social media. It is grounded in something much more profound.

Our daughters are hard wired to seek meaning and value in their lives. They will find it somewhere. When identity is sought after in ideas and places that cannot deliver, we will see anxiety, depression, and self-harm. Our girls deserve so much more. Their bodies, their beauty, and their souls have infinite value and as a community of women we are called to instill this truth with love and authority.

Over the next few weeks we will consider how to empower a young woman’s identity by looking at the idea of community, authority, love, and wholeness.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Where is your daughter currently finding her value/identity? (activities, relationships, organizations?)
  2. Who are women in her life (besides you) that she can go to with questions?
  3. What role is social media playing in her development?
  4. From whom does she seek affirmation?
  5. What institutions is she a part of that seek to invest in who she is becoming as a woman?

 

Join My Mailing List

Want to receive my blog posts, or periodic news/updates in your inbox? Join my mailing list. Don't worry, your email address is never sold or shared.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Address Book Address Card adjust align-center align-justify align-left align-right ambulance American Sign Language Interpreting Anchor Angle Double Down Angle Double Left Angle Double Right Angle Double Up angle-down angle-left angle-right angle-up Archive Alternate Arrow Circle Down Alternate Arrow Circle Left Alternate Arrow Circle Right Alternate Arrow Circle Up Arrow Circle Down Arrow Circle Left Arrow Circle Right Arrow Circle Up arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up Alternate Arrows Alternate Arrows Horizontal Alternate Arrows Vertical Assistive Listening Systems asterisk At Audio Description backward Balance Scale ban Band-Aid barcode Bars Baseball Ball Basketball Ball Bath Battery Empty Battery Full Battery 1/2 Full Battery 1/4 Full Battery 3/4 Full Bed beer bell Bell Slash Bicycle Binoculars Birthday Cake Blind bold Lightning Bolt Bomb book bookmark Bowling Ball Box Boxes Braille Briefcase Bug Building bullhorn Bullseye Bus Calculator Calendar Alternate Calendar Calendar Check Calendar Minus Calendar Plus Calendar Times camera Retro Camera Car Caret Down Caret Left Caret Right Caret Square Down Caret Square Left Caret Square Right Caret Square Up Caret Up Shopping Cart Arrow Down Add to Shopping Cart certificate Area Chart Bar Chart Line Chart Pie Chart Check Check Circle Check Square Chess Chess Bishop Chess Board Chess King Chess Knight Chess Pawn Chess Queen Chess Rook Chevron Circle Down Chevron Circle Left Chevron Circle Right Chevron Circle Up chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up Child Circle Circle Notched Clipboard Clipboard Check Clipboard List Clock Clone Closed Captioning Cloud Cloud Download Alternate Cloud Upload Alternate Code Code Branch Coffee cog cogs Columns comment Alternate Comment comments Compass Compress Copy Copyright Credit Card crop Crosshairs Cube Cubes Cut Database Deaf Desktop DNA Dollar Sign Dolly Dolly Flatbed Dot Circle Download Edit eject Horizontal Ellipsis Vertical Ellipsis Envelope Envelope Open Envelope Square eraser Euro Sign Alternate Exchange exclamation Exclamation Circle Exclamation Triangle Expand Alternate Expand Arrows Alternate External Link Alternate External Link Square Eye Eye Dropper Eye Slash fast-backward fast-forward Fax Female fighter-jet File Alternate File Archive File Audio File Code File Excel File Image File PDF File Powerpoint File Video File Word File Film Filter fire fire-extinguisher First Aid flag flag-checkered Flask Folder Folder Open font Football Ball forward Frown Futbol Gamepad Gavel Gem Genderless gift Martini Glass Globe Golf Ball Graduation Cap H Square Lizard (Hand) Paper (Hand) Peace (Hand) Hand Pointing Down Hand Pointing Left Hand Pointing Right Hand Pointing Up Pointer (Hand) Rock (Hand) Scissors (Hand) Spock (Hand) Handshake Hashtag HDD heading headphones Heart Heartbeat History Hockey Puck home hospital Hospital Symbol Hourglass Hourglass End Hourglass Half Hourglass Start I Beam Cursor Identification Badge Identification Card Image Images inbox Indent Industry Info Info Circle italic key Keyboard Language Laptop leaf Lemon Level Down Alternate Level Up Alternate Life Ring Lightbulb Link Turkish Lira Sign List List Alternate list-ol list-ul location-arrow lock Lock Open Alternate Long Arrow Down Alternate Long Arrow Left Alternate Long Arrow Right Alternate Long Arrow Up Low Vision magic magnet Male Map map-marker Map Marker Alternate Map Pin Map Signs Mars Mars Double Mars Stroke Mars Stroke Horizontal Mars Stroke Vertical medkit Meh Mercury Microchip microphone Microphone Slash minus Minus Circle Minus Square Mobile Phone Alternate Mobile Money Bill Alternate Moon Motorcycle Mouse Pointer Music Neuter Newspaper Object Group Object Ungroup Outdent Paint Brush Pallet Paper Plane Paperclip paragraph Paste pause Pause Circle Paw Pen Square Alternate Pencil Percent Phone Phone Square Phone Volume Pills plane play Play Circle Plug plus Plus Circle Plus Square Podcast Pound Sign Power Off print Puzzle Piece qrcode Question Question Circle Quidditch quote-left quote-right random Recycle Redo Alternate Redo Registered Trademark Reply reply-all Retweet road rocket rss RSS Square Ruble Sign Indian Rupee Sign Save Search Search Minus Search Plus Server Share Alternate Share Alternate Share Square Share Square Shekel Sign Alternate Shield Ship Shipping Fast Shopping Bag Shopping Basket shopping-cart Shower Alternate Sign In Sign Language Alternate Sign Out signal Sitemap Horizontal Sliders Smile Snowflake Sort Sort Alpha Down Sort Alpha Up Sort Amount Down Sort Amount Up Sort Down (Descending) Sort Numeric Down Sort Numeric Up Sort Up (Ascending) Space Shuttle Spinner Square Square Full Star star-half step-backward step-forward Stethoscope Sticky Note stop Stop Circle Stopwatch Street View Strikethrough subscript Subway Suitcase Sun superscript Sync Alternate Sync Syringe table Table Tennis tablet Alternate Tablet Alternate Tachometer tag tags Tasks Taxi Terminal text-height text-width th th-large th-list Thermometer Thermometer Empty Thermometer Full Thermometer 1/2 Full Thermometer 1/4 Full Thermometer 3/4 Full thumbs-down thumbs-up Thumbtack Alternate Ticket Times Times Circle tint Toggle Off Toggle On Trademark Train Transgender Alternate Transgender Trash Alternate Trash Tree trophy truck TTY Television Umbrella Underline Undo Alternate Undo Universal Access University unlink unlock Alternate Unlock Upload User User Circle user-md Add User User Secret Remove User Users Utensil Spoon Utensils Venus Venus Double Venus Mars Video Volleyball Ball volume-down volume-off volume-up Warehouse Weight Wheelchair WiFi Window Close Window Maximize Window Minimize Window Restore Won Sign Wrench Yen Sign 500px Accessible Icon Accusoft App.net Adversal affiliatetheme Algolia Amazon Amazon Pay Amilia Android AngelList Angry Creative Angular App Store iOS App Store Apper Systems AB Apple Apple Pay Asymmetrik, Ltd. Audible Autoprefixer avianex Aviato Amazon Web Services (AWS) Bandcamp Behance Behance Square BIMobject Bitbucket Bitcoin Bity Font Awesome Black Tie BlackBerry Blogger Blogger B Bluetooth Bluetooth BTC Büromöbel-Experte GmbH & Co. KG. BuySellAds Amazon Pay Credit Card American Express Credit Card Apple Pay Credit Card Diner's Club Credit Card Discover Credit Card JCB Credit Card MasterCard Credit Card Paypal Credit Card Stripe Credit Card Visa Credit Card Centercode Chrome cloudscale.ch Cloudsmith cloudversify Codepen Codie Pie Connect Develop Contao cPanel Creative Commons CSS 3 Logo Alternate CSS3 Logo Cuttlefish Dungeons & Dragons DashCube Delicious Logo deploy.dog Deskpro deviantART Digg Logo Digital Ocean Discord Discourse DocHub Docker Draft2digital Dribbble Dribbble Square Dropbox Drupal Logo Dyalog Earlybirds Edge Browser Elementor Ember Galactic Empire Envira Gallery Erlang Ethereum Etsy ExpeditedSSL Facebook Facebook F Facebook Messenger Facebook Square Firefox First Order firstdraft Flickr Flipboard Fly Font Awesome Alternate Font Awesome Font Awesome Flag Fonticons Fonticons Fi Fort Awesome Alternate Fort Awesome Forumbee Foursquare Free Code Camp FreeBSD Get Pocket GG Currency GG Currency Circle Git Git Square GitHub Alternate GitHub GitHub Square GitKraken GitLab Gitter Glide Glide G Gofore Goodreads Goodreads G Google Logo Google Drive Google Play Google Plus Google Plus G Google Plus Square Google Wallet Gratipay (Gittip) Grav Gripfire, Inc. Grunt Gulp Hacker News Hacker News Square Hips HireAHelper Hooli Hotjar Houzz HTML 5 Logo HubSpot IMDB Instagram Internet-explorer ioxhost iTunes Itunes Note Jenkis Joget Joomla Logo JavaScript (JS) JavaScript (JS) Square jsFiddle KeyCDN Kickstarter Kickstarter K KORVUE Laravel last.fm last.fm Square Leanpub Less Line LinkedIn LinkedIn In Linode Linux lyft Magento MaxCDN MedApps Medium Medium M MRT Meetup Microsoft Mix Mixcloud Mizuni MODX Monero Napster Nintendo Switch Node.js Node.js JS npm NS8 Nutritionix Odnoklassniki Odnoklassniki Square OpenCart OpenID Opera Optin Monster Open Source Initiative page4 Corporation Pagelines Palfed Patreon Paypal Periscope Phabricator Phoenix Framework PHP Pied Piper Logo Alternate Pied Piper Logo Pied Piper PP Logo (Old) Pinterest Pinterest P Pinterest Square PlayStation Product Hunt Pushed Python QQ QuinScape Quora Ravelry React Rebel Alliance red river reddit Logo reddit Alien reddit Square Rendact Renren replyd Resolving Rocket.Chat Rockrms Safari Sass SCHLIX Scribd Searchengin Sellcast Sellsy Servicestack Shirts in Bulk SimplyBuilt SISTRIX skyatlas Skype Slack Logo Slack Hashtag Slideshare Snapchat Snapchat Ghost Snapchat Square SoundCloud Speakap Spotify Stack Exchange Stack Overflow StayLinked Steam Steam Square Steam Symbol Sticker Mule Strava Stripe Stripe S Studio Vinari StumbleUpon Logo StumbleUpon Circle Superpowers Supple Telegram Telegram Plane Tencent Weibo ThemeIsle Trello TripAdvisor Tumblr Tumblr Square Twitch Twitter Twitter Square Typo3 Uber UIkit Uniregistry Untappd USB us-Sunnah Foundation Vaadin Viacoin Viadeo Viadeo Square Viber Vimeo Vimeo Square Vimeo Vine VK VNV Vue.js Weibo Weixin (WeChat) What's App What's App Square WHMCS Wikipedia W Windows WordPress Logo Wordpress Simple WPBeginner WPExplorer WPForms Xbox Xing Xing Square Y Combinator Yahoo Logo Yandex Yandex International Yelp Yoast YouTube YouTube Square