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Published May 14, 2013, 11:35 PM

Three Moorhead High seniors create an event to empower girls and promote self-esteem

MOORHEAD – Over ice cream, best friends Olivia Bergh, Ama Frederickson and Annise Montplaisir would talk about self-esteem in girls – how girls dress or act a certain way to get attention and about the time Montplaisir saw a girl walk into the bathroom, look in a mirror, and say “ew.”

By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

If you go

What: “Beautiful to the Core”

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday

Where: Moorhead High School auditorium, 2300 4th Ave. S.

Info: Self-empowerment event is for sixth- through 12th-grade girls. Speakers include Ajit Berg, Dawn Gunderson, Chris Linnares and Dr. Susan Mathison. Free to attend. Includes refreshments and door prizes.

Online: The Beautiful to the Core Facebook group: http://on.fb.me/10E7Wok

MOORHEAD – Over ice cream, best friends Olivia Bergh, Ama Frederickson and Annise Montplaisir would talk about self-esteem in girls – how girls dress or act a certain way to get attention and about the time Montplaisir saw a girl walk into the bathroom, look in a mirror, and say “ew.”

And it’s not just others, Bergh notes.

“We notice it in ourselves,” she says. “Why can’t we be ourselves?”

The three Moorhead High School seniors, all members of the student council’s service committee, wanted to do something to empower girls, promote positive self-identities, and to combat unrealistic media portrayals of women.

The students approached Moorhead High teacher Dawn Gunderson, who directs the spring play, about using the school’s auditorium. She offered to mentor the girls, help organize an event and speak at it.

The result is Beautiful to the Core. Geared for sixth- through 12th-grade girls from across Fargo-Moorhead, the event will be held 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Moorhead High School.

In addition to Gunderson, speakers include SheSays fashion columnist Ajit Berg, Brazilian psychotherapist and Diva Connection founder Chris Linnares and Dr. Susan Mathison of Catalyst Medical Center.

Initially, the seniors wanted to reach middle school girls transitioning into high school, but realized the message held value for a wider audience.

“We can’t start early enough to make sure these girls are equipped,” says Gunderson, who previously led a girls club for junior high students.

Gunderson wants girls to know they’re courageous, can take a stand, and believe in themselves. She’ll discuss goal setting and overcoming obstacles.

“I believe so much in people doing the right thing if you give them the skills,” she says.

Frederickson says as she, Bergh and Montplaisir focused the message they wanted to spread, they began thinking bigger, regularly asking “wouldn’t it be cool if …?” That led to T-shirts, door prizes and the full slate of speakers. Several area individuals and businesses donated services or items to the cause.

“We want girls to realize how full of potential and how beautiful they are,” Montplaisir says. “You don’t need makeup to feel beautiful. We’re powerful and can change the world.”

“They are certainly forward thinkers,” Gunderson says of the three friends. “I think they are women who will be making a mark in their college lives as well as their adult woman lives,” running for office or starting businesses.

“I just hope it will make a difference in a lot of girls’ outlooks,” Bergh says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556

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