Today’s teenage girls face so many obstacles and an unprecedented amount of pressure to fit into society’s expectations of young womanhood. It is not surprising that many girls can’t find their way and lose themselves in the conflicting messages of their parents, peers, and mainstream media.
In an effort to help teenage girls find their way and reclaim their rightful position as daughters of the King, First Lady Serita Jakes of The Potter’s House released The Princess Within for Teens. In the book, she delicately answers the need-to-know questions girls have about intimate relationships, self-esteem, healthy friendships, fears, and more.
She was kind enough to speak to Gospel Today about her latest work.
GT: This book is so timely. What was your inspiration for writing this book to young women?
SJ: I worked with the Distinctively Debutante program at our church, and I learned that a lot of our girls were succumbing to peer pressure, demeaning imagery, and dealing with a lot of traumatic experiences, so I wanted to tone down all of the noise they were hearing and just whisper to their hearts that they are uniquely designed to be perfectly imperfect. They don’t have to be distorted by the vile images of reality TV. They can walk in confidence and beauty.
You don’t have to be distorted by the vile images of reality TV. You can walk in confidence and beauty.
GT: This generation faces a great deal of peer pressure, especially with the popularity of social media. You address this in your book. What advice would you give to young women seeking to fit in or be accepted on sites like Instagram and Twitter?
SJ: In society, girls have to define themselves in 140 characters or less and go on Facebook and pretend to be someone that they are not, while in actuality, they are faced with depression and low self-esteem. They’ve got family issues and they are feeling alone. When I wrote this book, I had girls like this in mind. The girls that are in our debutante program at The Potter’s House have achieved academic excellence, yet they don’t realize that they’re not alone, that they’re beautiful, strong, and fully capable of finding themselves. And so they don’t have to look outward. They need to look inward to find out who they really are designed to be.
We need to look inward to find out who we really are designed to be.
GT: You also address issues of body image. In the age of Photoshop and altered photos, what would you like to share with young ladies about accepting themselves?
SJ: I think that we’ve been labeled, as women, as a group who can’t get along and are competitive with one another, and if we would just let the world know that we can encourage one another and be relational towards one another. And that we can do all of this without being competitive, jealous, envious, catty, or demeaning to the girl that’s standing next to us and know that we’re all made in the image of God. A lot of times we let what we look like on the outside define who we are on the inside, and sometimes that is so far from the truth. I think beauty radiates from the inside out and [that] we’re majoring on the minor. I think we should direct our girls to being beautiful on the inside and building their self-worth so they’re not degrading of one another. A beautiful soul trumps a beautiful outward appearance every time.
Beauty radiates from the inside out.
GT: What do you want young women to take away from reading this book? Do you have any final words for the young ladies reading?
SJ: I consider this book a road map and a journey. Through The Princess Within for Teens, they’ll be able to discover and assess where they are and determine where they want to go. The Princess Within for Teens will walk them through that journey to reaching their destination.
You have the right to discover your inheritance.
It’s a road map so they don’t have to get caught up in the mazes of their minds that would entrap them or derail them from their journey. And [it will also teach them] that they have a right to discover their inheritance of grace, dignity, power, and [other] things that seem to be taboo. I think that we so often concentrate on the girls being tough and leathery, and we forget that they’re supposed to be fragrant and lacey. We can take the grunge of the sneaker and merge it with the grace of the crown!
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