By: Katie Sobiech
Every girl dreams of being a princess, but not every girl is told that she actually is. The Princess Within, an annual event for young girls in Monroe, Ohio does just that. Their purpose is to reveal to young girls their worth and value in God’s eyes.
Tina Moore, Founder of the Princess Within, and wife of Mark Moore, the Jr. High youth Pastor at Solid Rock Church, was inspired to start this event about eight years ago when she and a friend were thinking of new ideas for the young girls at their church.
“Girls always love makeovers and all of that kind of stuff, so we decided to do an event to just pamper them and make them feel special,” Moore said, “The world’s view of defining a young woman is so different from what God’s view is, so we have to let them know that it is not what people say about you – it is what God says about you. That is what defines you.”
Moore found that creating an event focusing on outward and inward beauty was the perfect mix. And that is where this Cinderella-like event, beginning Friday evening and ending Saturday evening, began.
This year phone calls of interest poured in from hundreds of girls and their parents from four different states, plus all over Ohio.
“We had girls interested out of state as well as various parts of Ohio,” Cathy Shupe, Assistant of the Princess Within, and Church Bookstore, Café and Ministry head, shared.
“Usually on a Friday night we minister to the inward person,” Moore explained, “We will have a ‘what not to wear’ session, or speak to them about who and what defines them. It is ministry time.”
Then she added, “We try to show them that they can still be cool and dress like the other girls, but a little more modest. It’s not like you have to wear your skirt down to your ankle!”
At the end of Friday night’s event, an altar call and prayer is offered to the girls as well.
“One year at the altar, I had a girl tell me that her mom told her only once or twice in her entire life that she’s ever loved her. That just broke my heart,” Moore said, “I love my kids and try to tell them everyday, but I know there are so many kids out there that don’t have that.”
Therefore, pouring love upon the girls and ministering to them is of utmost importance.
“The makeovers and stuff just draw them in – that’s what gets them here,” Moore said.
This Year’s Special Guest
This year – May 8th – was the first year that they brought in a special guest. Five Dove Award Nominee, Francesca Battistelli.
Battistelli put on a concert Friday night and then ministered to the girls Saturday – encouraging them with her testimony and talking about everything from insecurities to reaching for Gods dreams for their lives.
“It’s amazing how God takes the dreams in our hearts that seem so big and beyond our ability to achieve, and makes them happen,” Battistelli said, holding her guitar on a stage surrounded by girls crowded at her feet.
“I just want to encourage you, if there is a dream that you have, just know that God’s timing is perfect. You are so young, you have your whole life ahead of you, but it’s the decisions that you make now that are going to get you where you need to be.”
She also talked about beauty –a huge issue with girls today.
“Beauty is a way that we express God to the world,” Battistelli said, “And beauty is not just our makeup and our hair, but it is our hearts.”
*Beauty is not just our makeup and our hair, but it is our hearts.*
She asked the girls, “Do you all know that you are daughters of the King? That you are truly princesses? When you love Jesus and make Him the King of your life you are a princess.”
What a beautiful revelation for girls whose views of themselves are still being formed.
Why Beauty is Important
“When a girl doesn’t feel worth of any kind, she starts looking to the wrong kind of attention, in guys,” Moore said.
She explained the impact that feelings of unworthiness have on a girl’s life, including teen pregnancy. Several girls have come to their events pregnant.
“I know there is one school here in Middletown where so many girls are pregnant – it’s almost the thing to do now,” Moore said, “It’s sad. So we just want to change that way of thinking.”
Finding Worth in Christ
During the event, Battistelli, who has had scoliosis since age 11, shared some of her own insecurities.
“As young girls, so many of us think that we’re only special, or beautiful, or princesses when we’re the most popular, or when some boy tells us that we are special or they want to go out with us, or tell us we’re pretty…or whatever it is.”
Then the floor opened up for Q&A time with Battistelli. The girls were full of questions.
One young girl shared with the crowd “All of my life I have been picked on. I’ve had rocks thrown at me…” and continued with her story of not fitting in.
Battistelli gave her a hug and shared about her own times of loneliness saying, “I was always just right outside of the crowd. Never really part of what was going on, and at the time it seemed like life or death, but know that these years are going to pass by you quickly. They will be a faded memory soon.”
She ended her time with the girls singing her hit, “Free to Be Me”, then shared some interesting facts. Her name, Francesca, means “free”, which she wasn’t even aware of while writing the song, and Battistelli means “Hit the stars” in Italian.
Saturday morning always consists of two groups: one focusing on inward beauty, the other on outward, and then they switch. So, while some were being ministered to by Battistelli, the others were getting pampered.
Taking a journey through a maze of rooms in the spacious building attached to the church, each room was filled with a theme. The smell of hairspray, hot curling irons, nail polish and all of the other necessities needed to glam the girls up filled the air. Hair was done in one room, makeup in another, nails and massages in another.
One room was filled with dresses, splashed with different colors of the rainbow, sparkles, and lace…any girl’s dream. High – end stores such as David’s Bridal and Macy’s even donated some of the dresses.
A professional photographer took pictures of each girl’s shining moment.
The night of the banquet is a special event like no other. It’s a mixture of prom… graduation…even a wedding – all wrapped into one. It is a time when the girls make a vow to God and themselves to pursue holiness, passion and purity. Some re-dedicated their lives to God, while others made the decision to dedicate their lives for the first time.
“It’s amazing to see how many people come to see these girls,” Moore said.
It’s no surprise to see mom and dad along with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters all show up for the big night.
A guitarist and band played music softly as guests entered the elegantly decorated gymnasium, turned eloquent banquet hall. White twinkling lights sparkled across the room, trees with lights decorated the stage as well as sheer drapery hung from the ceiling.
Dinner was catered, and white floating candles decorated each round table.
Finally, the girls were each given their time to shine – an opportunity to walk down the runway in front of a crowd of proud family and friends. Each girl was introduced by former Ford Modeling Agency model, Angela Mack, (also youth Pastor of Solid Rock South) who taught them how to model earlier in the day.
Every girl made her signature mark- whether it was blowing kisses to the crowd, putting one hand up in the air and the other on her hip, or giving a confident, sparkling smile to the crowd.
“We want to help them build self esteem because we feel that a lot of the girls aren’t taught any of that,” Moore said.
Walking down the runway and hearing the applause from the audience was a definite confidence boost for the girls. As each of the girls “strutted her stuff”, Mack announced her name, interests and hobbies and what her future dreams were. The majority want to be singers and lawyers.
“They have so much fun. It’s amazing to see the difference from when they come in, to that night when they get their time on the runway. They’re just so excited. You can just see the happiness, joy and confidence in them,” Moore smiled.
Moore said they are trying to reach out more to the community and un- churched girls.
“Who knows,” she said, “Someday I would love to take this into a different venue where we can pull in even more un-churched girls. That is my goal. We’ll see what God does.”
If you are interested in finding out more about the Princess Within and/or attending next year’s event, please call the church (513) 423-7040 for more information.