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you are royal.

As a junior in high school, I went to Hawaii with my family.  My parents always tried to find a sacrament service we could attend if we were on vacation over a Sunday, and this particular trip we found one where President Monson was presiding over a conference.  We had no idea, and just lucked out to stumble on it when we walked into the chapel.  We took our seats toward the back--the building was very full--and settled in.  I am ashamed to say, that I cannot remember a single word that was spoken during that meeting.  Not one.  I don't remember the songs we sang, what we did after the meeting, or anything else specifially in regards to that day.

Except the girl sitting four rows and one seat over in front of me.  She had long blonde hair, tanned skin, a tiny frame, and a beautiful dress. She looked about my age, maybe slightly younger, and based on her body language, I assumed she was shy.  As my eyes continued to scan the room, I noticed another beautiful girl.  She was clearly a native of the islands.  Her voluminous black hair was long and shiny, and everything about her was full.  She was not petite, but not fat either.  She looked strong, but feminine, and she sang REALLY loud.  Again, she was about my age.  I continued looking around.  I saw another girl.  This one was slightly older than me.  She had a spunky hair do...kind of spiky and contrasting light and dark colors in her hair.  She was incredibly tall, and I remember noticing that she was a good few inches taller than the young man--a new husband, maybe?--sitting next to her.

I know I am not the only people watcher on earth... Dewy tells me it drives him nuts when we go to a game and he turns to talk to me about the latest play and I want to tell him about the couple across the arena who just found a churro.  It's fine.  That day, sitting in that church, I had a striking thought that I have returned to again and again.  All of these girls I was seeing were beautiful.  And not one of them looked like the other.  None of them had anything in common when it came to physical appearance.  I looked at them over and over again, trying to figure out just what it was that made me think that they were beautiful.  I couldn't pin point any specific thing that satisfied my curiosity.  So I did what I always did when consumed in my thoughts.  I started writing. I wrote all over the program, and I kept it in my bag until I got home where I could transfer my thoughts to my computer.  Here is what I wrote:

Young Women of Royalty
By: Amber Allen Hodges
Written November 2005

As young women in the world today we are judged by all we see,
We tend to listen when the TV tells us what we need to be.
The ideal lady is five foot six with long and flowing hair,
Rosy cheeks and suntanned skin; when she walks by all should stare.
Her clothes are all the latest trends, make ups' neatly applied;
She is the best at all she does, mistakes are all denied.
Ever flawless, proportioned body flaunts the clothes she wears,
"I'M PERFECT! YOU SHOULD BE LIKE ME!" reads the sign she proudly bears.

Now tell me girls do any of you match the image just conveyed?
Of course not, but still you try to match the portrait I've portrayed.
I have a secret to share with you--THE WORLD IS ONE HUGE LIAR!
The beauty a young lady has comes from an unseen blazing fire.
Confidence and strength with brains and morals true.
Standards held and loyalty kept should be more important to you.
Inner beauty outshines all the outer can acquire.
Having goals and dreams accomplished set you, on the beauty ladder, higher.

Young women, you are beautiful no matter what the world may say.
Stay strong and true to who you are, from temptation stay away.
Focus more upon the inside, and guaranteed the out will shine.
For the beauty you will bear will be given from Divine.  

This was before social media. This was before the Kardashians.  This was before contouring and cool sculpting and spanx.  How is it that I could have such a poignant thought at such a young age, and then never proceed to listen to it myself? And how is it possible that the messages our girls are bombarded with are even more intense now? I wish there was a way to tell this to every teenage girl, young mom, middle aged woman, and grandmother on earth.  I wish there was a way to make my own self change my views and be less critical of what I see in the mirror.  I think it will be a forever battle, because Satan knows what women are capable of and also how to stifle them.  I've been thinking about the teenage girls I teach--both at church and at work--and this poem kept coming back to my mind.  So here in my little space on the inter webs, I'm going to leave this poem in hopes that others will stumble upon it.  And I'm going to leave a little video clip as well that I found on YouTube.  We did a similar thing years ago with some teenage boys when I lived in another area, and I appreciate the way this group made theirs.  Enjoy.  


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