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Brave New Girls will hear from a Wondergirl

This year’s Brave New Girls conference, returning March 13 to Twin Bluff Middle School, is designed to help students become aware of advertising tricks aimed at young girls.

“The content will be about media and learning words that are used in marketing, especially on the covers of magazines,” said Cammy Nelson of Red Wing, who was selected to organize the event.

She said it is not always easy to spot certain marketing buzzwords, “but once you line (magazines) up next to each other, you realize how repetitive they are.”

Another main focus will be Photoshop and how digital photo manipulation creates unrealistic standards for beauty and body image, Nelson said.

“It’s becoming more common that people know about it, but there are still some girls who don’t understand just how edited an image on the cover of a magazine is.”

The three-hour conference also will touch on social networking websites and their effect on girls’ self-esteem.

“So many girls use social media as a way to talk about body image,” Nelson said. “And they get these messages that you have to look a certain way from other girls posting pictures and comments.”

She said the key is for girls to find people and organizations that post inspirational content.

“If you can be a different voice in all of that, somebody saying, ‘I’m beautiful the way I am,’ it changes social media,” Nelson said. “There are organizations trying to do that, you just have to find them.”

New for the conference this year, around a dozen high school volunteers will help lead discussions during various breakout sessions, she added.

Backup for learning life skills

This year marks the 11th Brave New Girls conference put on by the Red Wing branch of the American Association of University Women, a national advocacy and educational group for women’s rights issues.

“It’s fun,” said Nelson, recalling a past conference she attended as a Red Wing middle schooler. “It’s nice to be in that setting with a group of women like the AAUW, who are so committed to developing empowered young women.”

A recent communications graduate from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Nelson said she is in the early stages of launching a speaking business centered on the topics of media literacy and self-esteem for girls.

She added that her passion for helping educate girls started in elementary school while participating with Girls on the Run of Bluff Country.

The program for students ages 8 to 13 uses running as a backdrop to build confidence and teach life skills, according to the group’s website.

“Now that I’m out of school, I can start talking to girls and hopefully inspire the same thing that Girls on the Run did for me,” she said.

Girls on the Run International recently recognized Nelson’s accomplishments with a 2014 Wondergirl award, part of an essay contest for program alumnae.

Brave New Girls: ROAR runs 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. March 13 at Twin Bluff Middle School. This free event is open to all girls in grades 5 to 7. Register by Feb. 27 through the Red Wing Community Education at

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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