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Saint Mary’s alumna to host seminar for middle school girls

| Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Saint Mary’s alumna Molly Bell, class of 1997, will host the third annual Bloom Seminar, in which middle school-aged girls and their mothers will participate in two workshops — “Love Your Beauty” and “Confidence: A Journey” — to develop the girls’ confidence and self-esteem. The Bloom Seminar will run July 10 in conjunction with the fine arts and sports camps at the College this summer.

According to Bell, the idea for the seminar stemmed from her role in advertising. She said she knew young women could be affected by the media, and when she had a daughter, she felt compelled to do something to help young girls during a critical time in their growth.

“‘Love Your Beauty’ is really talking about, ‘Is beauty what you see on the outside or is beauty from the inside?’” she said. “Even though everything around them is inundating them and telling them that outer beauty is where they’re supposed to put the most emphasis, and that’s what defines them, when you really step back and think about the women that you love in your life and the women you look up to, the things that really matter come down to your inner beauty.”

Bell said this workshop focuses on educating young girls about issues surrounding female beauty, such as objectification, while “Confidence: A Journey” focuses more on confidence in a more realistic sense.

“Confident isn’t something we just decide we’re going to be,” Bell said. “It’s actually a state of being that is in flux. With girls, we always tell them, ‘We want you to be empowered and we want you to be confident,’ but for a lot of young girls, it feels daunting.”

According the Bell, this workshop will show girls that confidence comes from bravery.

“We gain confidence by fear and overcoming fear,” she said. “When something tragic happens in our lives, the confidence comes from getting back up. That confidence is not just this pretty, white thing that grows on a tree and you grab it. It’s actually kind of dirty. We have to go through pain and hardship to get to confidence.

“Confident women are usually women that have a story.”

In 2013, Saint Mary’s published “The Status of Girls in Indiana,” the first comprehensive study on the health and well-being of girls done in Indiana.

“Saint Mary’s was really feeling strongly that they wanted to respond to some of these statistics, one of which that high school girls seem that they have more of an incidence of depression and they feel this pressure for perfection,” she said. “By doing that report, [the College] sent the message that [it is a] part of Indiana and part of wanting to make sure women’s health is addressed as a whole.

“Not only just the women that are students but for young women in their state. My program also speaks to that — that Saint Mary’s is invested in young women and women’s health.”

The seminar is targeted at girls in fifth through seventh grade because they are on the verge of puberty and are trying to find who they are, Bell said.

“They’re trying to assert themselves and to find their place in the world,” Bell said. “I felt it was important to meet with them and to have an experience with them almost when they’re on the cusp of [puberty] and before they hit it because I think they’re still rooted in their moms, and their mom has been through that. I wanted to have an experience where mom and daughter could maybe talk about some issues before they’re in the throes of it.”

Bell said the focus of the mother-daughter relationship throughout the seminar serves to empower both mother and daughter to work through some of the self-esteem issues faced by young girls.

“As much as we don’t think we need [mothers] when we’re in middle school, your mom is your biggest advocate whether you like it or not,” she said. “To have a powerful experience with your mom in a day where you’re just focusing on each other, that is something that you can tap into in those moments when you feel like your whole world is coming down. To have both of you on the same page and holding hands through it, it helps in those times when you want to push your mom away.”

Bell said she hopes her seminar helps girls create conversations about issues regarding confidence and self-esteem.

“First and foremost, I hope they have a fun, empowering day together,” she said. “Hopefully, they can take just one thing away from that day and go forth and either share it with each other or share it with others. I don’t think you can solve all these problems and find answers to them in one day, but my hope is that it gives them some tools that as they leave the seminar, they feel like it continues.”

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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

Contact Nicole