Lifestyle

Poulsbo-based Our Beauty Within hopes to cultivate positive self-image

POULSBO — An up and coming local non-profit is getting some launch assistance from Hollywood, all while taking a stand against the images the industry promotes.

Our Beauty Within (OBW), a Poulsbo-based organization that focuses on cultivating positive self-images and skills in 8- to 12-year-old girls, is teaming with the maker of “America the Beautiful,” an award-winning documentary that poses the question: “Does America have an unhealthy obsession with beauty?”

The film will screen at the Lynwood Theater on Bainbridge Island Nov. 9. Tickets go on sale today and will benefit OBW.

“The movie is a professionally done film that takes the top off the beauty industry,” said OBW founder Claudine McCormick. She and Darryl Roberts, the film’s writer, director and producer, will hold a question and answer session post-show. She said Roberts has opened the dialogue on image issues that permeate society.

“We all know that this exists, we all know it affects women and girls, but it’s been really nebulous till now.”

McCormick, owner of the Dance Within studio, began OBW after discussions with her students revealed the need for an abolishment of the go-to media measuring stick. Self-esteem, she found, is extremely low in many young girls and women, and it’s a trend she hopes to change.

With similar emphasis, Roberts’ film chronicles the experiences of Gerren Taylor, a 12-year-old who passages from unknown adolescence to modeling on high-fashion catwalks.

He talks to mothers, men and celebrities in an effort to explore what the film’s Web site — www.americathebeautifuldoc.com — calls a “superficial social phenomenon.” The film is rated R.

It’s a jumping off point, McCormick said, for a host of upcoming workshops and events aimed at giving young girls the knowledge and confidence to recognize the true nature of beauty, in all its shapes and sizes.

“I have a 5-year-old daughter who’s just started school and is already starting to hear comments on the playground about her stature,” said Cristie Thuren, parent and OBW staff member. It was her daughter’s situation that prompted her involvement with the group. “What do you say to your daughter when some little boy is saying she’s fat? … I didn’t read that manual.”

Like “America the Beautiful,” Thuren said OBW is opening a dialogue in a safe, comfortable way for girls to process the images they see and hear and learn how to live strong, healthily and empowered.

OBW will debut its first program at Briedablik Elementary in January. Girl Power, a one-time workshop, will take on the issues of bullying, body image, friendships, self-identity and negative pressures from media. Each girl will receive her own Power Tool Kit.

McCormick said the cost for attendance is expected to be $35, with tool kits costing $10. The organization is looking for sponsors to be able to offer scholarships. Also on the OBW wish list: a box light projector, screen, laptop and volunteers of all sorts and abilities.

On its Web site, www.ourbeautywithin.org, OBW offers fast facts, book recommendations, a doctor’s message page, recipes, information for parents and even a page just for girls.

The group has two other programs planned: Strong Girls encourages fitness activities through after-school programs and interactive nutrition workshops and Girls Night Only is a weekend sleep-over designed to develop positive friendships.

Other programs in development include Girls Can Built It, which offers training in basic mechanical and technical skills, Safe Girls, which focuses on assertiveness training and self-defense and Girls In the Woods, another friendship-based sleepover event.

Also visit the Web site for donation and volunteer details.

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