The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

March 24, 2013

Program helps girls improve self-image

ENID, Okla. — Andrea Stephens’ definition of a babe is different than that of many people.

B.A.B.E., which stands for Beautiful, Accepted, Blessed, and Eternally Significant, is a course sponsored by Westminster Presbyterian Church. It teaches young girls how to replace the cultural view of themselves with God’s view. The class is scheduled for 4 p.m. April 6 at Emmanuel Baptist Church.

The program is part of the local mission of Westminster Presbyterian Church. The goal is to reach middle school- to high school-aged girls, Stephens said.

“I found when I moved to Oklahoma a year and a half ago that Oklahoma’s teen statistics showed high depression rates, suicide rates, teen pregnancy and alcohol and drug use.” Stephens said.

She is the wife of the Rev. Bill Stephens, pastor of the church.

Stephens also is troubled by the high rate of female incarceration in Oklahoma. Girls need to develop their own view of themselves and life in general, she said.

“They get into a mindset that there is nothing for them,” she said.

Some kids move into that type of thinking because of the circumstances of their lives, economic problems, being bullied, and they feel there is no opportunity for them, and they develop low self-esteem.

“They have no idea of what life could become. They do have valuable gifts and talents, and life does matter. That is something they get at B.A.B.E.,” she said.

The course teaches young girls they were created on purpose, for a purpose. They learn the answers to questions many teens have, including “Who am I?” and “What am I here for?” Stephens said. The course also shows teens they were created by God, and they can look at the Bible to see what it says they are here for. She quoted Rick Warren, saying people must go to God to find out what God’s purpose for them is.

Some of the keys of the program include talking about the idea they are beautiful, that God thinks they are beautiful and that is the only opinion they should consider, Stephens said.

“When we make God an audience of one — everyone has an audience in their mind — when they make God the audience and receive that acceptance, it sets girls free to be themselves and not give in to peer pressure,” Stephens said.

Stephens has a modeling background. She said girls tend to look at what the world thinks is beautiful; They see images of “beautiful” women, and the world tells them they are not beautiful.

“The world creates an unrealistic beauty standard,” Stephens said.

The world standard tells us beautiful women have high cheekbones; straight, white teeth; clear complexion; small hips; and are busty. The Barbie doll is the example she uses. It is considered beautiful, but it is plastic. The perfect body is the one each girl is in, she said. Her class will attempt to change the concept of what a beautiful woman is.

At the end of the class, the young women will have an opportunity to make a commitment for Christ, which she said is the first step in being connected to their creator.

As a girl of 19, Stephens went to New York City to learn to model and act. She found the environment constantly compared her to unrealistic beauty standards. It eroded her own self-esteem until she felt she was a failure and had no value. She eventually moved back home.

Stephens said that as a person of faith, God has a vision. She attended a Bible training program in Tulsa and wanted to know God’s plan for her life, since she did not know. God healed her self-esteem and taught her his idea, blessing her with talents and abilities he wanted her to use for him. The concept of B.A.B.E. formed several years later, and she said she developed a passion for it.

She has written 16 books on the subject as well as numerous articles, and taught girls about the concept. The Enid class is the first in Oklahoma. She has presented it in 30 states and four foreign countries. Stephens likes going to juvenile shelters to teach.

“I don’t believe any girl is helpless,” she said.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door. They are available at Emmanuel Baptist Church, MotoPhoto and iTickets.com. There is unlimited space available, and tickets also are available for those who cannot afford them.

Stephens said self-worth comes from doing for others and removing ourselves from the center of our thought.

“Feeling good comes from what we can do, rather than what we look like,” she said.

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