Defining Girl Defined
Two blonde women sit together in front of a stark white background – a space that the viewer understands to be a room in a house, but which also resembles the same bleak-cheerful atmosphere of a hospital room or public school hallway. The only decorations that can be seen are picture frames and lamps painted the exact same shade of white as the wall and a set of string lights draped in long loops across the background. The only pop of color on the screen is a blue floral blouse and two sets of wired green eyes. Without context, the scene looks like it’s been pulled straight out of a T.J. Maxx catalog. This is what the typical Girl Defined video looks like. Girl Defined is a YouTube channel run by Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal. Since 2014, Beal and Clark have used the channel as a platform to advertise their book, “Girl Defined: God's Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity.” In each video, Clark and Beal attempt to define the purpose of being a girl and give tips on how to live a God-honoring life. “[God] is the one who created us, and he is the only one who can define what gives us worth and what gives us value as women,” Beal preaches in a video titled, “Where Do You Find Your Identity as a Woman?” Animated religious outpourings like this can be found in almost all of Girl Defined’s videos, which is likely what led YouTuber Cody Ko to feature the channel in a series called “That’s Cringe.” Ko’s videos led to Girl Defined becoming a meme on TikTok. The short videos feature teenagers mocking Beal and Clark’s intense attitudes towards subjects like premarital sex and teenage obsession with the opposite sex. In one TikTok, a girl stands in front of a fake flaming background with the caption “me going to hell after I kiss before marriage,” referencing Beal’s open acknowledgement to abstaining from kissing her husband until their wedding day. It’s easy to understand how Girl Defined became a meme on a platform run by Gen Z kids when Beal and Clark constantly promote old fashioned and sometimes sexist ideas like female purity to their viewers. Delving further into the channel, one finds a slightly less humorous narrative. Some of the qualms Beal and Clark have with mainstream culture are actually similar to feminist frustrations with society. In their videos, the two women often discuss societal expectations for women as unrealistic, specifically expectations of extraneous beauty and finding satisfaction within marriage. Girl Defined has previously taken a staunch stance against feminism. Rather than rejecting patriarchal structures, the Beal and Clark turn to conservative rhetoric, twisting common Christian ideas to fit their own lives. They look to scripture to find answers about the purpose of womanhood, finding that a woman’s worth should be based on her ability to serve God. Because they understand the struggle of finding a God-honoring husband in the 21st century, Beal and Clark stress that not every woman is called upon by God to marry and that satisfaction with life is not found within marriage. Still, one of the five “truths” that make up their ideology is that the role of a wife and mother is extremely valuable. Two of these other “truths” are that true beauty starts at the heart, and purity should be a priority. The idea that a girl might define her own worth never seems to occur to the Girl Defined creators. In their videos, they seem to struggle through circuitous arguments in an attempt to make sense of the superficial aspects of misogyny, like expectations of marriage and beauty. It’s debatable whether the women of Girl Defined deserve the amount of ridicule that they get, but it’s obvious that they place blame upon individual sinful behaviors for their former dissatisfaction with life rather than naming the real problem. At the end of the day, they are promoting these ideas as self-help for women and girls. It’s a similar narrative for women that Christian doctrine has always preached, just repackaged with a pastel colored bow and string lights.