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Volume 1, Number 7           Autumn 2001


A Maine Beauty
Clare Fortune-Agan's brother, John, wrote the following essay to nominate his sister who was chosen as a Beautiful Girl in New Moon's Turn Beauty Inside Out program. We are grateful for permission to reprint it and Clare's letter.

By John Fortune- Agan
My sister, Clare, is incredible. She finds inspiration in many different places and wins admiration from people around her.

Clare shows great leadership as the captain of her junior high cross-country team. Last fall, the team had a meet in late October. The temperature was in the 40s, with driving wind and rain. The team had on winter jackets, wind pants, hats, and gloves and seemed reluctant to run. As the runners got ready for the meet, Clare gave her all to firing them up, giving high fives and yelling support to girls who seemed especially dispirited by the cold. By race time, the team was ready to go, and they ran with so much adrenaline that they intimidated their opponents. Needless to say, they won.

What stands out most to me about Clare, though, is her wisdom. She is four years younger than I am, but I admire the way she relates to other people. People of all ages feel comfortable around her. Whenever we visit a family with young children, Clare manages to draw the kids out. When it's time to go, often only a promise from Clare that she will visit again soon can tear the kids away from her. Clare has an interpersonal gift that I know will only grow stronger with time.


leader (lee-der) n. a peer rather than a superior. A good leader becomes a part of the group she is leading and is funny, enthusiastic, and supportive.

risk-taker (risk tay-ker) n. 1. Georgia O'Keefe said, "I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I have never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do." 2. Someone who backpacks, plays the saxophone, speaks in front of groups, and does sports. See also Clare Fortune-Agan.

Once Clare was chosen, she demonstrated the leadership her brother referred to by writing a wonderful letter to friends and family about "turn beauty inside out." Supporters donated nearly $500 to help pay for the New York trip, and also sent Clara letters to deliver to New York advertisers.

Here is the letter Clare wrote to family and friends upon her return:

"I want to express how deeply touched I was by the immense response I received from my first letter, how encouraged and supported I felt by all of the notes. And the letters that I brought down and gave to them were absolutely awesome, and made the impact of the campaign, in my opinion, significantly stronger. I truly felt, driving down there, that I had all of you behind me. I thank you for that. And New Moon also wanted to thank you very much for all of the financial support, which they, too, found overwhelming.

Rushing down to NYC for just 48 hours of participation in the "Turn Beauty Inside Out" campaign, though it seemed slightly frenetic to both my parents, and myself, was so worth it. Though it was different than what I expected (what could I expect?!), I feel like we had an impact. The discussion with the advertising executives was probably what I saw as the biggest thing about going down and seemed to be what the whole time was leading up to. It turned out to be a 45-minute conversation in small groups of about five girls and two ad execs, which turned out to have some pretty interesting topics. We found, as could have been expected, that the execs that were there to talk to us, agreed with just about every opinion and suggestion that could have been set forth by us about advertising. They turned out to be people very similar to ourselves (almost entirely women, I should add) who were working for changes in the way products are advertised, just in a different way: by getting jobs in the industry. But I think the presence of the group of young girls that we were...provided them with support for the work they were doing and some new ideas for it. So instead of putting new perspectives into their heads like I imagined us doing, we came from essentially the same "side" and could talk about what we felt. I think the impact we made was a worthwhile one.

The other big event was going to see the photo shoot, and actually getting to have some discussions with the model while she was being made up. We got to see just how everything works: the time it takes, the amount of makeup that is worn, the studio, etc. The model we watched get photographed was qualified as a "plus size model", at the size of 12. I don't know exactly what that says about the standards women are put under, but it says a lot about it. She was very smart and talked to us about why she does it and what it's like and what she will and will not do for a picture. The younger girls, who did most of the talking at this session, told her all about the campaign and what it was expressing. And she seemed very impressed by what they told her. Again, this fairly large group of 8 - 14 year old girls from so many different background and sections of the country left their mark.

I'm very glad I did it, though probably not for the same reasons that I thought I would be glad I did when I decided to go. Little steps toward the change that the group wanted to make were taken. And we got a taste of what it's like to be in the industry. But the best part was that we really got some good time with a lot of girls who, though we didn't expect or foresee it, were a lot more like ourselves than not. It was so inspiring, not only to go, but to feel all of you there with me. Thank you for sticking behind me, and for the irreplaceable support."

Congratulations Clare! We are very proud of you and your efforts to refocus us on the importance of looking for girls' inner beauty.

Clare's mother, Aileen, is interested in expanding the Turn Beauty Inside Out campaign throughout Maine to promote the recognition of girls for who they are, not what they look like. For more information or to help with this, please contact her at U. of ME York County Cooperative Extension (207) 324-2814 or .

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