Harnessing the Power of Women
By Patty Turrell and Joan Wise





It is startling to know that on an average, women don't describe themselves as being beautiful. While 75 percent of 8- and 9-year-olds said they liked their looks, that figure dropped to 56 percent among girls ages 12 and 13. This continues to drop as girls mature into adulthood.

Even more disturbing is the fact that 7 million girls and women have eating disorders, compared with 1 million boys and men. Ten percent report onset at 10 years or younger; 33 percent ages 11 to 15. Almost half the female population suffering from eating disorders started when they were young adolescents!

Role models for these young ladies are often Women who are living lives that are busier than ever before, juggling careers, relationships, and motherhood. They often totally lose sight of their own needs and well being in deference to their roles as professional, wife or mother. Raising strong, healthy young women who will be leaders in our communities is a goal that I think most everyone can support.

Oprah's website wisely suggests that "Being a good wife and mother means you must take care of yourself; otherwise you will ultimately be harming all the people you love in your life." Unfortunately this is not the message we are sending to our youth. The message we model is one of acceptance of the women's role as the sacrificial lamb.

Furthermore, women of all ages are consistently bombarded by media messages that present unrealistic, unnatural representations of how a woman's body must look in order to be beautiful.

According to Jane E. Brody in her article, "Girls and Puberty: the Crisis Years,"  Girls were particularly likely to be critical of themselves, and one-quarter of older girls reported they didn't like or even hated themselves. In contrast, only 14 percent of boys said they felt this way.

It has also been found that 90% of girls want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body ranking the highest. In addition, 72% of girls withdraw from life-engaging activities due to feeling badly about their looks.

With all this said, there are solutions. The first step is acknowledging that these issues are more common than we realize. Next, is to take the steps to change our perception in how we view ourselves. Self-esteem is a core identity issue essential to personal validation and empowerment is the key to a woman's sense of confidence.

As women we can help one another through support and education: Helping each other educate ourselves to empowerment through workshops and seminars; assisting each other to make the connections to programs and services that will provide women with the tools to rebuild their confidence and self worth; encouraging our youth to reach out to find programs and social settings that teach and encourage self respect and self love.

In May of 2009, The Center for Spiritual Living, Newport-Mesa, will be hosting the 7th Annual Women's Festival, a powerful day of education and encouragement empowering women of all ages to initiate positive changes in their lives, enabling them to build a better future for themselves and their community.

The Women's Festival is an opportunity to touch the lives of women in a powerful and meaningful way by presenting speakers who:

 -  Build and enhance self-esteem by providing a forum for women to address their concerns

-  Teach skills for everyday life

-  Provide information about issues that touch women

-  Offer insightful programs for young girls.

The Women's Festival also provides a fun and lively atmosphere for all our participants to enjoy:

-  Music and entertainment.

-  A boutique shopping experience providing a wide variety of gifts and services of interest to women

-  A gift bag with discounts, giveaways and samples

The Women's Festival is very proud to have the endorsement of The Girl Scouts of the USA. This organization is the world's pre-eminent organization dedicated solely to girls - all girls - where, in an accepting and nurturing environment, they build character and skills for success in the real world.

In partnership with committed adult volunteers, girls develop qualities that will serve them all their lives, like leadership, strong values, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self-worth.

Founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low, Girl Scouts' membership has grown from only 18 members in Savannah, Georgia, to 3.7 million members throughout the United States, including U.S. territories, and in more than 90 countries through USA Girl Scouts Overseas.

Women's Festival 2009 is a day dedicated to women of all ages, shapes and sizes. This is a day to celebrate our feminine nature. It is a time to re-establish ourselves as self reliant, empowered women, and to recapture that beautiful, confident spirit that is women. It is a day not to be missed.

For information on how to participate in this event, please contact Patty Turrell at (714) 754-7399 or
www.cmcsd.org

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