Read an Excerpt
Girls10 Gusty, God-Centered Sessions on Issues That Matter to Girls
By Helen Musick Dan Jessup Crystal Kirgiss
ZondervanCopyright © 2002 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGirls Your If-Only Self
I'd be happier if only ...
* THE ISSUE
The world's primary message to adolescent and teen girls is you might be happy and content, but you'd be happier and more content if you changed your appearance, changed your fashion style, changed your friends, had the right guy, and (especially important) spent a lot of money on a funky pair of shoes.
When you think about the challenges that face today's teenaged girls, what comes to mind first? Anorexia? Depression? Pregnancy? Divorced parents? Sexuality issues? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes again. The list of challenges is endless and many vie for first mention. When psychologists, parents, and youth workers finally have one problem identified, labeled, and possibly under control, another one rears its ugly head. That pattern is likely to continue in this age of whirlwind change and millisecond advancements.
Though adolescent girls face numerous challenges as they mature, perhaps the greatest one has to do with physical appearances. In the best-selling book, Reviving Ophelia, author Mary Pipher says, "At thirteen, many girls spend more time in front of a mirror than they do on their studies. Small flaws become obsessions. Bad hair can ruin a day. A broken fingernail can feel tragic ... Girls feel an enormous pressure to be beautiful and are aware of the constant evaluations of their appearance ... 'Every day in the life of a woman is a walking Miss America Contest'" (Reviving Ophelia, Mary Pipher, Ballantine, 1994, page 55).
Guys have a hard time understanding this, probably because they aren't continually bombarded with images of a perfect body, perfect hair, perfect complexion, perfect everything. "I hate it when girls talk about their weight," said one high school guy. "Who cares, anyway?" Nice sentiment, but it's a sure bet that he does care about a girl's weight, and it's even more sure that the girls in his school know it.
Take some time this week to flip through a few teen magazines. Pay attention to the commercials that are aired during prime time. Glance at all the beauty and dieting products that are sold in every grocery and discount department store. If it's been a while since you've been a teenager, you need to spend a little time recalling those feelings of "I'm not good enough. I'm not pretty enough. I'm not thin enough." If your teen years aren't too far in the past, you can probably recall those feelings with ease.
Before you point your girls toward their true identity (the subject of the third session), help them recognize the false identity the world is selling them. And then clarify that beauty is not an evil thing in itself, rather it is the worship of beauty that leads down a dangerous path.
Index cards or small pieces of paper
Who Am I?
Write the names of well-known females on the index cards-one name on each card. You can use athletes, musicians, actresses, politicians, authors, local celebrities. The names should all be familiar to your girls. If you have a group of five or less, have one girl come to the front. Then tape one name card on the wall behind her so that the others can see it but she can't. Explain the activity like this-
The card I just hung up has the name of a famous female on it. [Name of girl] has to figure out whose name is on the card. She may only ask yes or no questions. She can direct her questions to the entire group or to any individual in the group. Her goal is to name the person in as few questions as possible.
If the student up front is having a hard time even after asking a number of questions, give a leading hint like, "This person is a musician" or "This person died about 10 years ago." Give a helpful hint but don't make it too specific.
Have a volunteer keep track of how many questions she asks. Repeat the process with the other girls.
If you have a group of six or more, tape an index card with a name written on it onto the back of each girl. Then give an explanation like this-
Each of you has the name of a famous female taped on your back. It's your job to figure out who she is by asking each other yes-or-no questions. For example, you can ask, "Is my person an athlete?" but you may not ask, "What kind of work does she do?" Once you've asked one question, you have to move to a different person-one question per person at a time. You can answer one question at a time from each person you ask a question of. The goal is to see who can name her famous female first.
Let the students mingle for several minutes while asking questions. When each person has figured out her name (or after 10 minutes), pull your group together and ask questions like these-
* What kind of questions were most helpful in identifying your person (questions about occupation? appearance? age?)?
* What makes your person famous?
* What do you admire about your person?
* If your person is well-liked, what do you think draws people to her?
exploring the topic
Diggin' a Little Deeper
Transition with something like this-
We mainly identify people by appearance and by occupation. Each woman we identified in the game is famous because of what she does and is probably described as something like "gorgeous" or "talented, but not very pretty."
The world's idea of personal identity can be pretty shallow. It's all based on exteriors. Exterior appearance. Exterior activities. Exterior fame. Let's take a look at how the world identifies and defines women.
Choose one or more of the following activities.
option [group activity]
Who Wants to Look Like a Million Dollars?
A stack of teen and fashion magazines
Copies of Who Wants to Look Like a Million Dollars? (page 18) one for each group
Divide your girls into groups of two or three. Explain to them that you're going to take a look at how the world defines young women. Hand out several magazines, pens, and one copy of Who Wants to Look Like a Million Dollars? (page 18) to each group. Give them about 10 minutes to look through the magazines and fill out the worksheet as a group. When the groups have their lists made, come together and discuss the results with some questions-
* What's the main focus of the ads you saw?
* Why do you think people respond to these ads?
* What motivates you personally to buy some of these products?
* In what ways do the advertised products define who you are?
* What if-only's do these ads target, and what are the promised results? For example, "If only I had a better complexion, I would be more popular."
Then summarize by saying something like this-
The way advertisers get your attention is by displaying a beautiful model and trying to convince you that all women should look that way. If only you looked that way, your life would be better than it is now. If only your life were better than it is now, you'd be happier and more popular than you are now. We all know that's not how it works. No shampoo, no diet pill, no makeup, no piece of clothing can make you look like the person in that ad. Do you know that models, with their beauty and body shapes, represent only about one-tenth of one percent of the world's population? (And often photographs of them are digitally improved!) It's impossible for most of us to look like that. But many of us keep trying anyway.
It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. -from Ephesians 2, The Message.
option [video clip discussion] Clueless
TV and VCR
Show the clip from Clueless when Tai, the new girl at school, is rescued by two clueless but fashion-savvy girls who transform this plain Jane into a supermodel. (There are also make-over clips in She's All That or Grease if you prefer.)
Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world-wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important-has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out-but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. -from 1 John 2, The Message
0:24:50 "I met a really cute guy."
0:26:54 Tai admires herself in the mirror as the "Supermodel" song ends.
Follow up with some discussion questions-
* Why is there so much pressure on teen girls to look, walk, and act a certain way?
* Do most teen girls change something about their appearance or behavior to fit our culture's expectations for them? Explain. What characteristics are most commonly changed?
* Do girls put more energy into having the right look or into the having the right personality? Why do you think that?
* Why do you think so many girls buy into the idea, "If I can just get the right look, then things will be great"?
* Can you think of a movie or TV show where the heroine doesn't fit our culture's definition of A-okay? Tell about her.
option [solo activity]
Copies of If only (page 19) one for each student
Make sure each girl has a copy of If Only (page 19), pens, and a Bible. Give them about 10 minutes to answer the questions. Gather the group together and ask some follow-up questions-
* Are your if-only's all possible? Why do you think that?
* If your if-only's really happen, how would your life change?
* Think of the activity you love to do the most and that brings you the greatest happiness. Can your if-only's make you happier than that?
* Is it possible to ignore advertising messages? If yes, how can it be done?
* What's the hardest part about rejecting the view of beauty and success promoted through advertising?
* What does the Bible say about our culture's ideas on beauty and success?
Gettin' into the Word
The Hemorrhaging Woman Mark 5:24-34
Move into the Bible study by saying something like-
One word describes our culture's way of identifying each of you as individuals-change. Change your hair from straight to curly, curly to straight. Change your hair from brown to blonde or blonde to red. Change your weight from whatever you weigh now to something lighter. Change your eye makeup from bold to natural, natural to subtle. Change your clothes from casual to chic, chic to urban. Change this and that and everything else and then maybe, just maybe, you'll be beautiful, successful, and happy.
The trouble is, each of us is unique. No matter how much I change, I can't become another person. Neither can you.
There's a story in the Bible about a woman who, according to the world, was neither beautiful nor successful. In fact, people avoided her like the plague. Let's look at it. Nudgers (nuj´erz) n. a tool used to gently push teens toward new insight
* Imagine being known as unclean to everyone around you.
* Imagine having no physical contact with anyone for 12 years.
* Imagine having spent all your time and money looking for a cure, with no success.
* Imagine the risks for an unclean woman to enter a crowd of thousands.
* Imagine the fear when Jesus said, "Who touched me?"
* Imagine the moment when all eyes turned to you, the woman known as unclean.
* Imagine having the chance to tell Jesus your story, face to face.
* Imagine having Jesus look in your eyes and call you "Daughter."
Read Mark 5:24-34 to your students, or ask one or two students to read it to the group. Use the following to help process the story-
* Describe what the woman's life might have been like for the past 12 years.
* Even though the woman's condition was internal, how might it have affected her externally? * What might the woman have been thinking and feeling when she first entered the crowd? Explain your thoughts.
* In what ways does Jesus show this woman that she has worth and value in his eyes? (You may want to point out that during the time of these events, women were treated as property, had virtually no legal rights, were considered uneducable and unreliable as witnesses in court, and would not be spoken to by Jewish men in public.)
* How may the woman's view of herself have changed after talking with Jesus? Why do you think so?
* What do you think affected the woman more-being physically healed or meeting Jesus? Explain.
Finish with something like this-
The world tries to define us by its own standards. Because those standards are nearly impossible to achieve, many of us are left feeling unattractive, unaccepted, and substandard. But the world is wrong. Your worth is not measured by how you look, what you wear, or who your boyfriend is. Don't let the world tell you who you are. Let Jesus tell you. You are valuable as you are because God created you and loves you.
Takin' It to Heart
Copies of On the Home Front (Page 20). One for each student
Before you pass out On the Home Front (page 20), explain how you would like your girls to use it-perhaps as homework or as an optional devotional guide during the week. If you express expectations, be sure to include follow-up during the next lesson. Distribute the handout as your girls are leaving.
Look ahead to Session 10,Through the Looking Glass. To have a special closing celebration, allow plenty of time for planning, delegating, organizing, and preparing.
Excerpted from Girls by Helen Musick Dan Jessup Crystal Kirgiss Copyright © 2002 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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