We stared at the Virgin Mary’s childlike image in our children’s Bibles and sighed. Mary was so pretty. She was our idol, our Brittany Spears, the girl my evangelical Christian girlfriends and I all wanted to be…not when we grew up…but instead of growing up.
Mary’s innocence, her saintly asexuality, and her long chaste robes were way hotter to us than Brittany’s perky pigtails and sexy schoolgirl uniform. Mary was an evangelical’s sugar and everything nice to Brittany’s secular spice. But there was something else, something much more important about Mary: She was our chance. Our only chance. If we could reflect Mary’s perfect childlike image…forever…maybe we could avoid becoming the dreaded sexualized threat to evangelical men and boys that we were warned we might become as we developed into women.
But do we do that? we wondered. How do we–junior high girls growing breasts, teenagers picking up sass, and fully grown women who know suffering and have developed a wisdom and confidence that makes us feel like anything but kids–force our fleshy bodies into the shape of a child? And what happens to us when we to try? To our minds? Our bodies? Our lives?
In Man-Made Girls, the book I am writing on eternal girlhood and the evangelical Christian church, I go after the answers to these questions. I tell the story of my own adolescent experience of girling for God, and those of dozens of other 20-something evangelical and ex-evangelical women whose stories I gathered over 3 years of in-depth interviews. I compare our stories to data in the field, and explore what happens when young women are taught that good girls don’t grow up.
This blog is a place for me to bounce off ideas as I write the book, and to process the things that come up for me along the way. Because honestly, it isn’t an easy thing for me to do. And not just because writing a book, as it turns out, is really hard. But because this book is my soul-work, and work that comes from our souls is never simple. So frankly, I could use some company on the journey.
If you are into what I am writing, send me an email or post a comment, and I’ll write you back!