empowering teen girls

My Dilemma

I must admit…  One of my prouder motherhood moments is hearing that my 9-year-old daughter’s response to someone telling her that her clothes weren’t the right brand was “well, you are just shallow.”

If you know me personally, you know that could care less about superficial things.  I don’t follow trends or celebrities.  You also might know, I am passionate about empowering girls.  After all, I do have 4 daughters…  it only seems natural.

I have often written about how one of the most eye-opening periods of my life was raising preschool daughters and high school daughters at the same time and watching how differently they see themselves.  You tell a 3-year-old in a princess dress how pretty she is and she says “I know”.  You tell the same thing to a 14-year-old and she rolls her eyes.

I really do feel like a big part of my life’s calling is to do what I can to cultivate girls into strong women.  I even have a (slightly neglected)  little blog www.projectbeautifulgirl.com devoted to the mission.  

As a photographer with this passion, I often struggle with the importance of prettiness.  By trying to capture flattering pictures, promoting professional makeup services and indulging in photoshop touch ups, how can I say that I am not promoting the vanity of prettiness?  It is fun to look gorgeous!  I have to admit, it feels really good to have amazing pictures showing you looking flawless.  How can I advertise and offer this all while telling preteen girls that outward appearance isn’t THAT important?

How can I advertise and offer all this while telling preteen girls that outward appearance isn’t THAT important?

How do you balance the value of feeling attractive with the importance of finding a deeper beauty?

With selfies, celebrity infatuation and social media, we live in a culture that seems increasingly more obsessed with prettiness…  actually more accurately, sexual attractiveness.  Even more disturbing is seeing the media claim that someone is empowering a group of women because she posed for photographs naked or close to naked.  We spend so much time fighting against pink toys and telling girls that they can do anything, but then when we “empower” women, it always seems to revolve around their sexual attractiveness.  Isn’t that still saying that your appearance is the most important thing about you?

My Response

…I am in NO way saying I have figured it out because well, I haven’t.

What I can say is that I will try and celebrate the girls I photograph beyond just their appearance.

I will get to know them and try and capture portraits that tell a little bit of their story and not just capture what they look like.

I will try and celebrate the girls I photograph beyond just their appearance.  I will really get to know them and try and capture portraits that tell a little bit of their story and not just capture what they look like.

I promise that won’t use poses and/or outfits that seem over sexualized.

I will do whatever I can do to promote a well-rounded, more internal meaning of beauty.

However, I have learned that tools such as professional makeup, great lighting, and good photography that go a long way in making someone feel less average and I will use those tools to the best of my ability to help teens feel confident and awesome.

 

 

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