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Listen on your favorite podcast app. Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who's the prettiest girl of them all? Not me. Not me. Not me. Well, it starts pretty early, doesn't it?
That desire to be pretty and popular and admired by everybody. Well, today on Focus on the Family, we'll explore those challenges that so many girls and young women face and how we as parents can play a role in pointing our daughters to the true source of beauty and acceptance and happiness and identity, the love of Jesus Christ. Thanks for joining us today.
Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, I didn't have the privilege of raising daughters. I have two boys. You did.
You have three girls. Yeah. And so I want you in this one. Okay.
You got to really be asking those questions. But, you know, Jean did struggle with some of the very issues we're going to talk about. And I thought one of the amazing statistics that I read was that girls as young as 10, 8, 9, 10 years old are already worried about their appearance, their body image, et cetera. And almost 80 percent of girls by the age of 17 are unhappy with their body. So we've got a real problem in our culture about overemphasizing that exterior. And today we're going to tackle that and talk about the need for parents to be engaged and make sure they're doing and saying the things that can curb that girl's need for that admiration about her looks. Yeah.
Yeah. There's nothing that is absolutely perfect in inoculating our kids from the culture. We had one of our girls, we had a really interesting conversation when the girls hit adulthood. One of them said, you know, I never was feeling good about the dress the way I could dress.
I always felt like we were poor and I couldn't afford to do anything really nice. And so I always felt kind of wanting in that. And then one of my daughters did have an eating disorder.
Maybe we'll touch on that as we go. But I'm so glad that we have a guest here who has a story and some insights and great advice. Scarlett Hiltabidel is here and she's written a book that I think is just essential for any parent with girls. He numbered the pores on my face. That's a good. And the subtitle is hottie lists, clogged pores, eating disorders and freedom from it all.
And of course, we have copies of that book here at the ministry swing by the episode notes to find details or give us a call. Eight hundred the letter a and the word family. Scarlett, welcome to focus. Thank you for having me.
Yeah, it's so good to have you here. And I so appreciate the honesty in which you've written this book as a mom of three daughters. I've met your daughters. They're delightful young ladies.
They're listening and watching right now. What are their ages? They are eleven, nine and seven.
Eleven, nine and seven. The golden years. Oh, I know. I know I'm in the golden years. I'm savoring it.
Ours are 20s and 30s. So this will be good. And, you know, it's just so much fun. But there is where I opened up. There's so much pressure on girls and it's not new. Jean had that when she was a little girl. And, you know, she actually had some issues, too, with wanting to be thin and eating and, you know, taking care of that in unhealthy ways.
But let's start with your journey. You were, I think, obsessed would be a fair word. I don't want to overstate it.
Correct me if you're wrong. About looking beautiful. I mean, there's so much emphasis in the culture about exterior beauty. And it was related in part to your own mom. Give us a little bit of that history and that story about your journey. OK, well, I guess I had looking back, I definitely had an unusual upbringing. You don't know you're in an unusual upbringing, though, when you're in it.
You're just your reality, you know. But she was an actress, well-known, beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed actress. And I was I have a fake blonde right now.
No one's watching. But I did not look like my mom. And, you know, she would get asked for autographs everywhere we went. And I grew up in the wings of her doing shows and stand-up comedy clubs.
And so also, though, I was being raised in the church to believe that Jesus is the hope of the world and that our identity is found in him. And so I had this kind of unique, you know, both things happening at once, hearing having this unique view of the world from the wings and seeing my beautiful mother getting fawned over. And so, yes, I think it's a struggle for all girls of all ages, like all ages.
You know, it's a bit unusual. I don't hear that comparison with mom being an issue too often. But the fact that she was so well-known and an actress and a comedian and, you know, people would recognize her on the streets, especially in the 80s and 90s, if I recall, that was kind of the top of her career. But how did you process that as a 11, 12, 13-year-old? Like, everybody loves my mom.
Right. I'm psychoanalyzing this now at 36. But I would assume that's true. In the moment, I think I was very, I could kind of read people. I was protective of, you know, like, if someone seemed like they were really nice to me once they found out who she was.
I just remember that being a filter. You know, the beauty thing, it's very internal, the whole beauty struggle, the whole eating disorder thing. It's a very internal struggle, I think, for most girls. If my girls are listening right now, and my 11-year-old might be laughing because we stopped at Target this morning so I could get a different sweater, because I didn't feel like my sweater was right to meet you guys today. I'm just admitting this. Well, that's pretty normal, though.
If you don't like it, let's try something else. But, you know, it's normal. But I just, my sweet grandma, I'm wearing her chain. She went to heaven last year. And even in her late 80s, I remember her being concerned about how she looked and if she needed to lose weight and the whole thing. We live in a broken world, of course, with cultural expectations.
And, you know, it's hard to keep our eyes on the truth of the gospel and who we are in Jesus, no matter how old we are. Yeah. And we're going to uncover that. Um, one thing that was light-hearted in the book, you talked about creating a hottie list, I think, in junior high.
Now, before everybody goes, what could that be? I mean, I think that's kind of a normal thing. You know, who are the guys that are kind of cute, right? And who might like me is kind of the hottie list, I believe. So tell me about the hottie list. The hottie list is still talked about in our family.
I think I was 14. I had a hottie list. It was titled The Hottie List. And it was pretty much, I think I went to school with 18 boys in my Christian school. And so it was just their names, ranked, ranked, cuteness, dreaminess, how likely they are to fall in love with me.
I think that was the criteria. And I was very, I'm so proud of my oldest daughter in junior high out there because she's handling growing up with so much excitement and grace. Like, she's just like, yay, I'm growing up. I was the opposite. I was just very embarrassed. And I thought, oh, I can't like boys because that means I'm growing up. And so I hid this hottie list under my mattress.
Like, okay, nobody needs to know. I'm still a kid. And then I had a unique family. My adoptive dad was like the laundry and dish guy. You know, my mom's a creative.
She taught me about creativity. Right. So he was battening down the hatches, keeping the house clean.
Exactly. And I was at school one day and apparently he was changing sheets and found my hottie list. And when I came home, he looked at me and he said, Scarlet, I was changing your sheets. And as soon as he said that, I collapsed in horror and ran into my closet. I will never forget it. I wouldn't come out of my closet sobbing.
I mean, very emotional, so humiliated about my hottie list. And I don't. Yeah, there you go. That's the story.
It's probably pretty common at that age, to be honest, and maybe even younger. You point girls to the story of Eve in Genesis three, where she was tricked by the lies of the serpent, the enemy in the Garden of Eden. How does that relate to the beauty obsession that many girls and young women are experiencing today? Yeah.
You know, Eve was the first one to believe the lies of the enemy. You know, do you really have everything good? Does God really love you?
Is he really telling you the truth? And, you know, I think the hottie list and me trying to be worthy of these 18 hotties, you know, liking me, I think it's all about wanting to feel that peace and worthiness. You know, we all want to be loved. We all want to feel like we're worthy of love. And it's so easy to believe that same lie that Eve believed in the garden of like, okay, I've got to look some way or do something or be some way to make these people around me validate that I'm worthy of love. And the gospel tells us the opposite, you know, but it all traces down to that no matter if you're a 13-year-old, 12-year-old, whatever I was listing hotties and putting on blue eyeliner and hoping to look as perfect as possible.
Or if you're, you know, no matter what you are, if you're 89 and thinking I got to go on a diet. Yeah, I think it's so easy because we live in this physical world. Yeah, so true. Scarlett, for those of us who have multiple daughters, I think it's pretty common for one of them to feel like they're getting all the compliments.
That happened for us. My oldest daughter probably had people telling her that she was really pretty. My middle daughter will say nobody's ever told me that. Have you experienced that dynamic with your own girls?
Oh yeah, and I mean they could all say that about different qualities that they have. We have three very different looking beautiful girls. My oldest looks more like me, beautiful brown hair, brown eyes. My youngest looks like my mom, blonde hair, blue eyes. The genetics got in somehow because my husband also dark hair and dark eyes. So my mom's like, yay, someone looks like me.
Only for genes. Yes, but I remember my oldest, love you sweetie, talking about you. I remember when she was, you know, five or six years old, just noticing that people would comment on her little sister's bright blue green eyes. And even, you know, my middle daughter who is very special, who we adopted from China, she gets a lot of attention because she uses sign language to communicate. And she has a lot of special things about her. And I just think it's normal for daughters, women, girls to compare themselves like, oh, they're getting attention.
What is it about them that's special? But how do you as a parent really dial into that, though? You know, here's what I do.
I try to help them do what I try to do every day, which is, is it Colossians 3.2, set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. And when I do that, I can say, okay, no matter if I wore the right sweater to focus on the family today. You have a nice sweater. Thank you. It's from Target.
That was the only place that was open. Tag is still on the sleeve, but it's a nice one. I told my daughter, is there a tag? That's going to happen. It's fine. I'm going to be honest. You know, no matter what it is, when we set our minds on things above, we remember this simple and beautiful truth of the gospel that Jesus, his perfection, his worthiness is what defines us and what makes us able to have confidence.
It's not that we have the right sweater, that we have the right eye color. And so it's something that I, you know, fight still. And I think everybody, every human, if they're honest, fights to look for worthiness in our careers or whatever it is.
So how do I do it? When I recognize it, I try to help lead them to what I'm trying to lead myself to, which is to worship him instead of trying to be worshiped. And what I really appreciate as a parent, seeing you talk about that with your daughter, sitting right out there listening to you right now. I mean, it's open.
It's real. This is going to be a lifelong battle that we're all going to fight, especially us girls. And here's how you have to look at it differently. I think that's a great way to hit it with your daughters.
Hopefully in 20 years, who knows what I'll say. But, you know, something that really changed my life that I love to share when I have the opportunity is I was just in this group of women. This is what kind of led me into ministry and sharing my story. I was a perfectionist striver. And I happened to be at this retreat with women.
And this mom said, you know, my goal as a mom is not to be perfect and have perfect kids. It's just to point my kids to Jesus. And so when I have a win, then wow, the Holy Spirit used me to do this thing.
That's awesome. We can celebrate that. But when I fail, I can also say this is why we need the forgiveness of Jesus and we have it. And so you're going to fail two daughters and you're going to look to hottie lists and, you know, your looks and you're going to get distracted by things. But we can shift our attention upward and realize our whole lives.
Our whole goal is to just point to Jesus. And that's so freeing. And when I heard that it just kind of took all of this weight off that I'd been carrying that I didn't need to carry.
So, you know, I hope that that's what my girls see with their flawed mom, who's frantically going through sweaters at Target before her interview. But it's so good. And it's what's so great about it.
It's a simple statement with profound depth. Yeah. I mean, if we can help our kids in their relationship with the Lord, number one, and put everything else in its right priority.
Boy, that's it. I mean, this is life, right? And we're all striving to do that with our sons or our daughters. Let's move back a little bit to the the issue of the eating disorder. Because again, that's such a common problem. Even my wife, Jean, when she was a teenager, struggled with that. Just speak to your experience with that.
And I'm sure people listening girls, particularly that are listening now, or moms of those daughters that are struggling with this right now, describe your battle and then how to make that turn so you don't have to rely on what you don't eat to feel good about yourself. Yeah, it was a very sneaky thing for me how it snuck into my life. Because I, you know, I grew up in Hollywood, exposed to all these things. And so my big rebellion was trying to be good, which can sometimes be, you know, you become self righteous, which is sinful, but you don't see it. So it's kind of one of those very sneaky, sinful lifestyles that I was in where I was like getting the good grades and trying to make everybody like me didn't even realize that I'd switched from following every rule I could follow to trying to be as beautiful and thin as possible. So I didn't even really realize I was sinning when it started when I started obsessing about calories and food and all that. At the time that it got bad, I was dating my now husband who was a pastor, I was finishing Bible college, I worked at a church, so I was a quote, professional Christian, you know. And so, as I just kind of this slippery slope, you know, from eating healthy to full blown anorexia bulimia. And the amazing thing that happened, I always give the disclaimer that I have things I've prayed for my whole life that don't feel resolved.
So I know it's not going to be like this for every person who struggles with an eating disorder. But in my case, the Lord kept leading me to his word, and specifically Proverbs 2813, which says, he who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but if you confess, you receive mercy. And I would read it and I would hear it on the radio, maybe you guys were saying it, who knows. And I would see it, it was like one of those things where, okay, God, I get it, it's in my face everywhere. And I just remember out loud in my prayer life saying, okay, but I can't confess this, like, I can't do it.
It's too embarrassing. And, and it's, I'm living this double life. You know, I'm supposed to have it together. I'm a pastor's wife now. My husband didn't know it was just this secret that it was killing me. And so finally, after three and a half years, really, of hiding this and fighting it with my own willpower every day, and just feeling like I couldn't win, I was in a Starbucks parking lot getting espresso because I thought I was going to pass out because I was destroying my body. And I finally said, okay, God, Proverbs 2813, I'm going to confess because I'm going to die if I don't.
And I was just at that rock bottom. And I called my pastor husband who was in a pastor meeting. I was like, I love you.
We've been married, I don't know, just a few years. And I said, no, two years. And I said, I've got to tell you a lot of things right now. Please just don't say anything. I have to say all these things. And I said all of it, all of the shameful, embarrassing things.
And God gave him the grace to be gracious. And he said, you need to go to a Christian counselor tomorrow. And I said, I don't want to. And he said, you're going to. And so I did.
And that was September 11, 2008. And I remember, I don't know when the miracle happened of, you know, I'd been begging and begging God, heal me. And he was saying, obey me, confess, bring it into the light, do what I've called you to do, and you'll receive mercy. And I went to that counselor, I think it was the next day, or that same day. And I said it all out loud.
And I wrote the embarrassing things on the form. And I truly, honestly never struggled, never had a dysfunctional thought about food again to this day. And I knew it immediately. And it was like, in my bones, I was like, God healed me. And I have chills talking about it today.
And I remember like, at the time, you know, I was a pastor's wife, do at the laundromat doing clothes. And I'm like, Hi, can I tell you what Jesus just did? Because I was going to die. And he changed my life. And I was like a new believer, even though I wasn't, because I'd finally obeyed. And I finally felt like I had victory.
And I still have victory. And so I think it's just, you know, something I've learned over the years is, you grow up in the church, I'm raising my kids in the church. And I teach them, this is what God says, this is who he is. And this is his word. And let's obey it. And you hope that you will have the joy and the forgiveness and the mercy. But then you get older, and you're like, oh, it works. Like when you obey, you do experience joy and peace and healing. And so it was just one of those things that God did what he said he would. And yeah, I'm so grateful. Scarlett, I don't want to miss that moment, what you just said, because you could fill in any of us could fill in what we're struggling with, may not be a needing disorder, but we have the same fear that if this is exposed, or if people knew, then my life would be destroyed.
And what you're saying is it actually came alive. So speak to the person with that fear that they haven't had that discussion with their spouse, they have been hiding something. How would you encourage them to break through that door of insecurity and share it? Yeah, I think I mean, it's the most life changing thing when you find like I was saying that God's Word is true, and you experience it and you experience the forgiveness and the freedom and the joy of coming to the other side of it.
I would say, you know, I don't have any special good advice. I just know what happened to me. And I just know that God's Word is living and active like it says it is. And I think you can take any life struggle, any sin, any embarrassing thing that you're hiding. And, you know, say, Lord, will you help me? Will your spirit help me understand?
And he will, you know, he does, because he's real, and he's alive. And so, yeah, I would just say, rather than being a hearer of the word, and not a doer, I used to read that verse, and I used to think, I better be a doer so that Jesus will love me. And that's the opposite of Christianity. You know, Christianity says, you are loved, be a doer, because you are so loved, right, not to earn anything, you already have it. And so that's the thing that gave me the, you know, just, honestly, I didn't even really understand that gospel reality in the moment I confessed, it was more of a desperation.
And sometimes people need to get to that desperation point, I'm sure you can't force someone to see their need for saving. And, you know, you do it, you, you look at his word, and then you do it. And then you get to experience the freedom.
And then it makes you want more of it. And so I would just say, parents, whoever's listening, just you yourself, you know, don't try to be a good parent and raise your kids to believe the Bible, because it's the good thing to do. Get in the Bible yourself and let him change your life. And they're going to see it. And they're, you know, my girls out there, they're listening, they know they don't have a perfect mom. And thank goodness that that's not my job to be a perfect mom, my job is to teach them that Jesus is the hope of the world and that he's alive. And, you know, that is really well said, obviously, let's move to the identity issue, because that's really the core of the book and where you're driving the readers. Figuring out who you are during the tween and teen years is so critical. I've tried to do that with my boys, it doesn't matter if you have daughters or sons. But, you know, getting their identity rooted in Christ, so they have a foundation for moving forward.
It's so volatile, if your teenager doesn't understand that. You had an experience, another funny story shopping at a jewelry store, I think, or a pet shop. Yeah. And how did that work out to identity? Okay, so I think this was another middle school situation where I was auditioning for a play. There was a beautiful, talented girl who got the lead, of course. And I was in the course line because I don't have a beautiful voice. And I remember looking at her and just thinking, I want to be her, you know.
And she had a beautiful voice and a beautiful face. And she was wearing like a dog collar, you know, what do you call it? Like a dog tag. Dog, well, not a chain. More like a collar for a dog. A choker, but where you put the phone number, if you lose your dog. She had that as a necklace. And I was like, okay, I can't have her voice, I can't have her beauty, but there's a pet supermarket on the way home from this acting school. So I was like, mom, I've got to have, we got to stop. I got to get the dog tag.
So I did. I put my name and my phone number on a dog chain and I wore it to school. And it was very uneventful. The doors did not swing open and everyone applaud me. No, um, pretty much no one noticed or they were like, are you wearing a dog?
You know, and then I took it off, you know, by fourth period or whatever. And yeah, identity. It's, it's so hard. It's so hard at that age.
It's so hard at every age, but especially when you're trapped in school with the same, however many people every day and wanting to be admired and yeah. So in that context for the moms and dads, um, one identifying that your child is struggling and then to what to do, man, I think I know I'm always like a broken record, but the older I get, the more simple I see it. It's just, I think we just have to live authentic lives in front of our kids where we are confessing sin in front of them and turning from it in front of them. And, you know, if we see it in them, correcting them and helping them, but also recognizing that hopefully, you know, the dream, the goal of a Christian parent is we grow up and you know, my three daughters are my sisters forever in eternity. And I'm so grateful that they are my two little ones accepted Jesus this year. And it was so special. It was so special. But yeah, I don't think that there's a formula or a 12 step program that you can do to make your kids.
I mean, that's the whole point of that lady who I was so grateful. I think, okay, here's my advice. I think get as many Christian influences in their lives as you can. Adventures in Odyssey, my kids are obsessed with that. We listened to Seeds Family Worship is a family band scripture set to music. And I want other adults telling them and sharing testimonies with them, because that's how my life was changed. I was raised to believe that the gospel is true for years. And for whatever reason, I just, you know, pinpoint these specific moments that God used people living their lives and walking with Jesus. And that's what changed my life. So that's my all over the place answer.
No, no. And it's really good. And it's being authentic with your kids, which I so appreciate. I remember walking in after, you know, a little discipline I had to do with Trent.
He was in the top bunk bed. I'm looking at him eye to eye. And I said, I felt bad because I kind of overreacted not an abusive way. I just, you know, I gave him more verbiage than I should have. And I apologized to him. I said, man, Trent, I'm sorry. I mean, I didn't handle that well. And he smiled. And I went, now why are you smiling?
He goes, I didn't know parents had to apologize. But that's good. Isn't that the best lesson? I love stories. And you know, I think of a few months ago, I just had to do this. And you know, I'm up here talking to you guys about this. You even now I can get in my mind and think, okay, I should have it down by now to where I don't have to apologize to my kids anymore. But I had one of those moments recently where I had to apologize. And I was so grateful to how they reacted. My oldest said, Mom, you forgive us all the time.
Of course, we forgive you. And it's just getting to experience that gospel grace from your kids. It's just a beautiful thing both ways. So I love that the, you know, going back to the dog collar for a moment, the jewelry selection that you made. You also tie that in the book, I think, or at least mention, you know, Jesus is not our accessory.
And I this be a good place to end, especially for teen girls and tween girls who are trying to adorn themselves to look better and to be that part. And moms that, you know, most likely encourage it to a degree. Speak to that Jesus is not your accessory. You know, I think we're all wired to want to do a good job at our Christianity, whatever we're doing. And so it's easy to kind of just, okay, my daily Bible reading, I'm going to make this part of my life. And that's going to show me God and show me that I'm doing a good job, losing sight of, okay, God's word is a gift.
This is a relationship. I think that's something I already mentioned Colossians three, two, but my grandma who I'm wearing her chain, she reminded me of that all the time, set your mind on things above and not on earthly things. And that's not a one time thing. When you get saved, it's a daily shifting of your focus. And so I think he becomes he overtakes our lives when we stop trying to use the Bible or him or our faith as a, as a thing to add to our lives to make us better. Like he will make us better. And we will do good works because his spirit lives in us.
Yeah, I mean, it's so good. Scarlett, thank you for being with us. This has been terrific. And what great reminders. Thank you for having me parents to, you know, be mindful of what we're what we're exemplifying as followers of Christ and making sure our kids who are aware, almost painfully aware of our foibles, right as parents, and I like that idea of just getting out there and letting them know we're not perfect people. But we want to point you to Jesus, because that's the answer to all of our problems.
He is the answer. And boy, if you want a copy of this great resource, get a hold of it here, focus on the family. When you do so, make a gift of any amount, we'll send it to you as our way of saying thank you.
And that way, you're not paying shareholders, you're helping to save babies lives, save marriages and do so much more with the proceeds. So thank you for your support. Donate as you can either a monthly pledge or one time gift, and we'll send that book to you.
Once again, Scarlett's book is called He Numbered the Pores on My Face. The link is in the show notes or give us a call. We'd be happy to tell you more. 800 the letter A and the word family 800-232-6459. And when you get in touch, be sure to ask about Brio Magazine, our teen girls magazine, which comes to you with a lot of faith-based perspective and content. It's a really engaging magazine.
If you've got a teen girl in your life, she should be reading Brio Magazine. Learn more at the website or give us a call. Scarlett, it's been great having you with us. Thanks so much. Thank you.
It was a joy. And coming up tomorrow, a challenge for husbands and wives who are entering those empty nest years. If we're going to have a life well lived and we're going to finish well, it's time for us to put our energy into our relationship with God and our relationship with our loved ones. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Brio Magazine can capture the heart and faith of your teen girl at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash Brio Radio.
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