I came across two interesting articles last week on this theme. One was about a magazine called virtuous teen which aims to spread the word to teenage girls that God loves them just as they are, and the other was about former super model Cindy Crawford and her recent decision to restrict the amount of modelling work that she lets her ten year old daughter get involved in.
The issue of self image and the stereotype image that society tells teenagers is desirable is something that's got a lot of attention in youth ministry over the years, though it's probably waned a little bit in recent years. It's still an important topic.
I've always felt that the issue was a little too narrow if anything. The pressure from the media focuses on girls and on how they look. But it's wider than just physical appearance, and it's certainly wider than just girls.
We live in a world which tells people that the way to get ahead is to be mean (X-Factor, Big Brother), we live in a world that tells people that you only get ahead by beating others (Weakest Link), we live in a world which tells people that being famous for next to nothing is better than being anonymous and amazing (Jordan!), and, yes, it's a world which also tells people how to look, what to wear, how to act.
In contrast to that, we have a gospel which tells people that they're loved for who they are.
How do we show people that as youth workers? How do we show them that to be themselves and to be amazing as they are is more than enough?