What drives teenage girls? What tempts them? What causes their insecurities? More importantly, what can parents do to make a difference in their lives? Author Maria Furlough battled self-image and self-esteem issues as a teenager, and in Your Daughter Needs a Hero she uses a mix of personal stories and years of experience counseling teenage girls in youth ministry to show parents what their teenage daughters are going through and how best to help them.
Furlough explains how things such as fad diets, the media, and pornography influence a teen girl’s body image, and she guides parents on how to counteract the constant pressures and influences that affect teen girls every day. This book will show parents how to effectively build their daughter’s self-esteem, self-image, and, most importantly, their faith in God and in their parents. If you have a daughter, Your Daughter Needs a Hero is a must read!
The Story Behind ‘Your Daughter Needs a Hero
By Maria C. Furlough
Yup! This is me at 13 years old. Who knew? Who knew that this beautiful, young, innocent 13 year old girl thought she was fat and immeasurably imperfect. I cannot emphasize enough how sad it makes me to look back at this photo and think about how much I hated looking in the mirror. I think about how I overly analyzed every small detail of my body and had a long list of attributes that needed drastic changing. But my sadness is not for the girl you see in this photo and the loss of her innocence…the sadness comes from the realization that every single day young girls everywhere go to war on themselves over the way they think that they look. I so badly don’t want them to be like me.
It seems hopeless. Physical beauty has seemingly won over the hearts of every teenage heart from here to Timbuktu. Insecurity now seems like a rite of passage, something we all just deal with on a daily basis. Call me naive or call me unrealistically optimistic…but I sincerely believe that things are going to change. Something is wrongly broken in our culture if the young lady in this picture, the young lady in your home, your class, or your neighborhood looks at her perfectly made body and thinks one word: fat.
The good news is you no longer need to be a “sideliner.” Someone who watches life happening around them but takes no action. Life is happening to you and the young ladies that you know and it is taking us captive. Will you join me in taking tiny steps from stopping it from taking one more innocent young life?
Step 1 Take a verbal stance against physical beauty obsessions when possible. You would be surprised how many opportunities you get to turn people’s eyes off of how they look. When I was in CT for a book signing one lovely lady said to me “Insecurity isn’t my problem, eating is. Food really gets me, I cannot stop eating, and I don’t know what to do.” I held her hand and lovingly said to her, “Give your mind, your heart, and your spirit a break. Take some time off from thinking of food for awhile and just focus in on God and His Word.” The expression on her face brightened as she said to me, “Would you believe that I have never even thought of that before? Thank you.” Give it a try. Give someone verbal encouragement, love, or guidance that has nothing to do with their physical body.
Step 2 Give your own mind a break. I think about my body, looks, clothes, and appearances more times in one day than I can even count… so I decided to fast from these thoughts. Sunday I even went to church without makeup on. My high school students reminded me last week that it was no longer cool to say “OMG,” BUT, if it were let me just say…OMG! You have to understand, the world nearly stood still on its axis when I told my husband I was leaving for church without first applying my usual beauty routine. Amazingly enough, I survived it.
Step 3 Decide what you truly believe about beauty. A couple of years ago I set out on this journey to minister to young girls and I noticed a saying that was often flung around “True beauty lies on the inside.” I flung it around too, why not? Then I thought about it one day, “Do I actually believe it?” After all, I was more guilty than the next person at sizing people up according to their looks. Truth is, people say the right thing all the time…that it doesn’t matter how you look or what size you are. But then why are we surrounded by a world obsessed with physical perfection? So, all I have control over is my own mind and my own home and in my family we have claimed war against an emphasis on looks. Am I sure how it will all turn out? No. But my husband and I have sat down and created a battle plan kill dead definition of beauty that is based on size and body composition.
I pray that this just be the beginning for us. I could sit here and write and write for hours about how far God has brought me since this picture was taken. Today, I can proudly put this picture up on my wall with the caption “Wonderfully and Perfectly Made.” Because of this, because of the huge work of healing God has done in my life, I know that there is hope for our daughters. A hope of a different future where the decisions we make are based on strength and confidence instead of insecurity. May we partner together in this hope through Your Daughter Needs a Hero.
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Eighteen years ago, an eleven year old girl looked in mirror and for the first time in her innocent life…she realized she hated what she saw. That girl was me. It continued to be me until in my early twenties I realized two things: God had a bigger plan for me than that and part of that plan was for me to help other girls not be like me.As God slowly picked me up out of the pit I was in, I began to look around me and see many of factors that contributed to my poor body image. As a youth leader I watched, studied, and prayed for the young girls God put into my life. I struggled with them as they constantly asked about the caloric content of the cookies I put out or begged me not to take pictures of them. It made me so sad to see so much of myself in them. Then one day, after an interaction with parents, it hit me like a ton of bricks “they don’t know!” Their parents, my parents…they didn’t and don’t realize the depths that insecurity reaches. It was time for action.
After the birth of my first child, Faith I sat down at my computer to write. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I actually wrote all the way through the birth of my second child David (it took me quite awhile with two under two at home!!!). What I wrote is simple: parents you need to know…Today my family and I live in North Carolina and we excitedly begin this journey as an author and speaker. My husband Dave is the catalyst behind all that I do. He has encouraged me and enabled me to be on this journey and I am so thankful for his love and his companionship. My daughter Faith, now turning four, inspires me every day to stand firm to the message I believe in. It is for her that I take serious every word I utter about beauty. It is for her I strive to be a woman who models a God given security in prayer that she will not struggle the way that I did. It is for her my life’s mission is now clear. My son David is now two and he is the ball of laughter and energy that keep this home going. His smile, his laugh it is all contagious and I look forward to the man God is molding him to be. Furlough baby # three, Aaron has officially arrived into our lives. Since the day he was born he has been a perfect reminder of God’s grace and love for us. Aaron is our perfect gift.
Authoring is by no means my life, but it sure is something God has excitedly called me to do and I look forward to all that the future has in store! May this book, this blog, this life of mine bless you as we partner to help our girls into a life of true worth.
Feel free to contact me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on booking events, signings, prayer needs, or simply to share your story.
Maria’s latest book is Your Daughter Needs a Hero.
You can visit the author’s website at www.trueworthministries.org.