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Rare beauty

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Arrowood

Hannah Arrowood never had plans of going into ministry. With a father and two grandfathers working as ministers, that career path held little appeal for Arrowood as she grew up in Tennessee and later in Charlotte. Little did she know, ministry would soon call her name.

Arrowood defeated tough odds when, at age 17, she became pregnant but continued on to graduate from high school and college, all while raising her daughter, Sierra, now 11.

Later married to Jeff and mother to both Sierra and Brianna, 8, Arrowood faced what was perhaps her greatest challenge yet in October of 2009 when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Arrowood’s bout with cancer led her to do what she had always thought she never would: enter ministry. “God really instilled this vision in me,” she says. Arrowood went on to establish Present Age Ministries, which focuses on encouraging youth to follow Christ’s example, and a teen girl division called Designed 2 Shine. “I asked myself, ‘How do we teach today’s youth to say no to these things and to live upright in this present age?’”

With a background in image consulting and experience with young girls, Arrowood felt immediately passionate about the cause of Designed 2 Shine, a ministry with the motto of “Encouraging the next generation to faith-inspired beauty.”

Arrowood was astounded when her middle-school age daughter and her friends discussed losing weight at sleepovers.

“In this generation, our girls face more than we could ever imagine,” she says. “These girls need to be grounded. A lot of people are uncomfortable talking about these issues with young girls, so they choose to ignore them instead.”

Arrowood takes a very different approach with her Designed 2 Shine summer camp, Dare 2 Be Rare. “‘Dare to be Rare’ is a slogan for the girls. You have to make a choice to stand out and be different because you are a rare treasure.”

For the second annual Dare 2 Be Rare summer fashion camp held in July, 20 girls met with Arrowood for two days in the juniors’ department of Dillard’s at Northlake Mall. “It’s important to meet them on their level,” she says. “We talk about what colors look good on you, what styles look best on your body, modesty – just because you see it on a mannequin doesn’t mean you should wear it!”

The girls at Dare 2 Be Rare summer camp go on scavenger hunts in Dillard’s to find figure-flattering, age-appropriate, and, of course, cute clothing. Arrowood and the girls talk about what guys really think and even have interviews with high-school boys. “It’s neat for them to hear, from a guy’s mouth, about respect and what you wear.”

For the young girls Arrowood mentors, this camp is more than just two days of shopping with their very own fashionista – much more. “I can go cry in the dressing room with a girl if she is frustrated,” Arrowood says. “We want it to be personal. It has to be personal convictions that motivate these girls at the end of the day. That is ultimately our goal – to help get them to that point.”

Emily Davis, 14, participated in Dare 2 Be Rare summer fashion camp last summer. “I learned that I should be proud to be me!” she says. “I would encourage my friends to go to Dare 2 Be Rare because it shows girls their importance and self-worth.”

Celeste Davis, Emily’s mother, has witnessed firsthand the impact of Arrowood’s work. “Hannah relates well to young girls, and she has helped Emily grow closer to God with her Bible studies,” she says. “Our children are bombarded by worldly views everywhere they turn. Hannah emphasizes what I have already said to Emily, but when Emily hears it from Hannah, it tends to hold in her thoughts more.”

Arrowood recalls one emotional moment from last year’s summer camp. “One girl told me, ‘I never realized I could be pretty.’ She was 15 years old, and it broke my heart. But it also made me excited to say, ‘No, you can be! God made you that way!’”

Dare 2 Be Rare is bringing the message of self-respect, confidence and faith-inspired beauty to girls across the United States. Arrowood will also host Dare 2 Be Rare summer fashion camps in Indianapolis and Charleston, S.C.

While the camp focuses on clothing as a way of connecting to this generation of young girls, Arrowood says that the camp’s message runs far deeper than a shirt in the right color and the perfect cut of jeans.

“It’s so much more than what you wear,” she says. “It’s truly understanding that you’re representing something. These girls need to understand that their confidence has to be secured in one place. It’s not the boys; it’s not the clothes. It’s in Christ.”

Designed 2 Shine hosts many other events for young girls. Dare 2 Be Rare sleepovers provide a more intimate setting for the discussion of fashion, body image and modesty. Radical Runway is a fashion show for mothers and daughters; Pure @ Heart is a purity ball for fathers and daughters. “Fathers can’t skip out on this role either!” Arrowood says. “This might be my favorite event because it’s when they really start to understand that the choices they make are lasting and come from their hearts.” Raising GRACE (Growing Radically After Christ’s Example) provides moms with tools and resources to encourage and empower their daughters.

In early 2010, Arrowood began compiling her experiences and insights into written form. Her book “Who Am I? Practical Truths in a Deceiving World” is soon to be published. “I felt like God was saying, ‘If you could just speak up, you could help them,’” she says. “The book is an overview of what it’s like to be a teenage girl.”

With a variety of events for young girls and a book soon to be on the shelves, Arrowood appears to be fast approaching her ultimate vision for Designed 2 Shine.

“We want to train and lead a new generation to be bold in and stand up for what they believe,” she says. “We’re teaching them to equip themselves to love as Christ loved us, and that you can’t do that if you don’t love yourself and have confidence.”

For more information, visit Hannah Arrowood’s website, www.hannaharrowood.com.

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