Attractive, intelligent, athletic, popular: society expects teenage girls to be a lot of things. Cell phones, iPods, gaming systems, laptops: society expects girls to own a lot of things. Stylish hair, flawless skin, perfect teeth, toned bod¬ies: society expects young women to have and achieve a lot of things.
How can they ever measure up in a world that expects so much?
If you listen to the secular media, it's hard to believe you'll ever have enough or be enough to be accepted. And it's hard not to listen! Society "sells" the idea that people, especially teenage girls, are unworthy. But not to worry — they not only tear you down, they also can fix you! All you have to do is buy their products for shinier hair, whiter teeth, a flatter stomach and suddenly you'll be popular, you'll be beautiful, you'll be loved.
Maybe some of these products will help you conform to society's standards of perfection. But no shampoo, toothpaste, or diet pill will counteract the damage the media does to your self-esteem. If you don’t learn how to tune out these negative messages while you're young, you'll never have the strength you will need to navigate adulthood. Young and old alike, we all feel the pressure to conform.
True Girl is a magazine of faith, life and fashion, written for Catholic teenage girls. Our goal is to provide a resource that encourages young women in their love of God and of His Church.
The magazine, which is published six times a year and based in LaPorte, IN, features photos of real girls, not models, in an effort to offer an alternative to the one-dimensional icons that saturate popular culture. By inspiring young women to be "true" to God and to themselves, our faith-based editorial mission is to create a new generation of counter-cultural thinkers who will stand firm in their beliefs, despite the temptations of the secular world.
The content of the magazine offers decidedly Catholic features like a "Rosary Reflection" and a "True Girl Saint," but also includes all the fun things girls love: entertainment reviews, beauty and health tips, quizzes, trivia and modest fashion.
Each issue also includes a "freebie" that readers can register to win on the magazines Web site, http://www.truegirlonline.com. The Web site features the True Girl Bulletin Board, a safe place for subscribers to talk with other "true girls" from across the country.
As teenage girls make the transition from adolescence to adulthood, they inevitably will encounter new expectations: to drive a luxury vehicle; to hold a high-paying job; to have a perfect marriage; to own a designer home. However, very few adults ever fully meet these lofty demands. Even if you are one of the lucky few with everything society says you should have, acquiring these material and physical status symbols does not guarantee happiness.
The truth is that happiness lies in acquiring a rich spiritual life. As Catholics and members of the body of Christ, we know a secret that the media doesn’t want us to know. Society tells us we’re not good enough, but the truth is that we are good enough because each one of us is created in the image and likeness of God.
How is that possible? Each of us is unique — in appearance, personality and spirit. It may seem odd that we can be different, but all be created in His image. The Catechism teaches us that our truth, our goodness and our beauty "all reflect the infinite perfection of God" (CCC 41). How awesome! While you may be tempted to find fault in the hand life dealt you or even in the genes you received from your parents, you can't find fault in God's creation. You will see that beautiful creation every time you look in the mirror. The truth is that you are inherently beautiful!
Together, your body and soul are intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit (CCC 364). How can a temple of the Holy Spirit be anything less than wonderful? If you look at yourself through God's eyes, you will focus on all the gifts you have been given; in recognizing what makes you special and unique, you will learn to love yourself as Christ loves you. However, if you look at yourself through society’s eyes, you will focus on all that you don’t have, believing and perpetuating the media's lies.
So on those inevitable days when you feel unattractive, untalented, and altogether unworthy, take a step back and look again. If you focus on what others expect, then you will always come up short. You never can make enough, own enough, or be enough to be perfect in the secular world. But in God's eyes, you are already beautiful and nothing you do or don't do can ever change the perfect way He loves you.
Pictured here is the February/March cover of True Girl. The magazine (Web site: http://www.true¬girlonline.com), which is published six times a year and based in LaPorte, IN, offers an alternative to the negative messages that saturate popular culture, aimed at teenage girls. The editorial mission of the magazine is to connect with Catholic “True Girls” and inspire them to be true to God and to themselves.
(Editor’s note: Brandi Lee, editor-in¬chief of True Girl, graduated from Rosary High School, Aurora, IL, in 1995; and the University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, in 1999 with a B.A. in English. Lee taught high school English and Spanish at Catholic schools for five years before "retiring" to start a family. Her son, Benjamin, was born three months ago. Lee launched True Girl in 2005 with business partner and friend Stephanie Murphy, the publisher of the magazine. True Girl, now in its second year, has subscribers that hail from throughout the United States as well as Canada and Australia.)