We had a special program for the Young Women in November called, "Young Women in Excellence". The purpose of this yearly event is to celebrate the young women and recognize their personal progress accomplishments.
So the idea we came up with was to have a "Deep Beauty" pageant for the girls. A funny/mock pageant focusing on lasting inner beauty instead of the superficial. The girls were the stars of the evening and they'd each get to choose to represent a value: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. Each value has a color assigned to it, so each girl had to dress in the most outrageous outfit she could put together in that color.
Just to make sure they understood, the leaders dressed up a few weeks before the event to demonstrate. I'm sure they thought we were a bit WaCKo! You should have seen the looks we got when we showed up for our activity that night, haha! Here were our outfits... (however, you can't see M's leg warmers, my red high heels, and L's eye shadow.) Too fun! The girls got really excited to come up with their own ridiculous ensemble.
So this is how the program unfolded... each girl walked down the red carpet and came up on stage, shared the scripture and motto for the value she represented, answered a question by the emcee and received her award. Then I spoke about the meaning of deep beauty. Following my talk, the Bishop gave some closing remarks and then we were dismissed to look at the girls' personal progress accomplishments displayed on tables around the room. Lastly, we all had refreshments while we watched a slideshow of pictures from all our activities that one of the young women put together for her personal progress project. It was a really wonderful night! I hope it was special and memorable for the young women.
Here are some pictures:
Goofy pic of the girls (and the hot emcee). These are all the yw except a few girls who couldn't make it that night...
Here's one of the beauties!
Celeste was SO excited to help with the program. She kept saying, "I can't WAIT till I'm in young womens!"
It was fun to see how creative the girls got with their outfits! Some went all out... blue lipstick, blue hair dye, etc...
Taking a final bow...
Sister Dalton was introduced to President McKay as a young woman, and had the privilege of meeting his wife. The following is her story:
President McKay reached for his wife’s hand and said, “Now, young women, I would like you to meet my queen.” There seated next to him was his wife, Emma Ray McKay. Although she did not wear a crown of sparkling diamonds, nor was she seated on a throne, I knew she was a true queen. Her white hair was her crown, and her pure eyes sparkled like jewels. As President and Sister McKay spoke of their family and their life together, their intertwined hands spoke volumes about their love. Joy radiated from their faces. Hers was a beauty that cannot be purchased. It came from years of seeking the best gifts, becoming well educated, seeking knowledge by study and also by faith. It came from years of hard work, of faithfully enduring trials with optimism, trust, strength, and courage. It came from her unwavering devotion and fidelity to her husband, her family, and the Lord.
On that fall day in Huntsville, Utah, I was reminded of my divine identity, and I learned about what I now call “deep beauty”—the kind of beauty that shines from the inside out. It is the kind of beauty that cannot be painted on, surgically created, or purchased. It is the kind of beauty that doesn’t wash off. It is spiritual attractiveness. Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean. It is the kind of beauty that you see in the eyes of virtuous women like your mother and grandmother. It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants.
The world places so much emphasis on physical attractiveness and would have you believe that you are to look like the elusive model on the cover of a magazine. The Lord would tell you that you are each uniquely beautiful. When you are virtuous, chaste, and morally clean, your inner beauty glows in your eyes and in your face. My grandfather used to say, “If you live close to God and His infinite grace—you won’t have to tell, it will show in your face.” When you are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, you are confident and your inner beauty shines brightly. And so “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and … the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.”
We have been taught that “the gift of the Holy Ghost … quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections. … It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features.” Now, that is a great beauty secret! That is the beauty I observed in the home of a prophet. That day I learned that the beauty I saw in Sister McKay was the only beauty that really matters and the only kind of beauty that lasts.
From Elder Nelson's talk to Young Women:
Frankly, the world has been brutal with you... you are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is, “If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.” That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood. In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard. As one Hollywood actress is reported to have said recently: “We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate [themselves] in search of that. I see women [including young women] … pulling this up and tucking that back. It’s like a slippery slope. [You can’t get off of it.] … It’s really insane … what society is doing to women.” In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.”
A woman not of our faith once wrote something to the effect that in her years of working with beautiful women she had seen several things they all had in common, and not one of them had anything to do with sizes and shapes. She said the loveliest women she had known had a glow of health, a warm personality, a love of learning, stability of character, and integrity. If we may add the sweet and gentle Spirit of the Lord carried by such a woman, then this describes the loveliness of women in any age or time, every element of which is emphasized in and attainable through the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God sent women to earth with some qualities in extra capacity. In speaking to young women, President Faust observed that femininity “is the divine adornment of humanity. It finds expression in your … capacity to love, your spirituality, delicacy, radiance, sensitivity, creativity, charm, graciousness, gentleness, dignity, and quiet strength. It is manifest differently in each girl or woman, but each … possesses it. Femininity is part of your inner beauty."
I hope these deeply beautiful young women always remember the value and importance of seeking after the gift of charity and developing other Christlike attributes. Usually in a pageant, there is only one declared the fairest of them all. But there was no competition in this beauty pageant because each girl has an equal privilege to have His image engraven upon their countenance. And His image is the truest and deepest beauty there is.