Daily News/Briana Scroggins Kayla Waddington, 15, of Coleman
wears her red Chuck Taylors with the red formal dress picked out
for her to wear during the fashion show.
They were already, all of them, beautiful young women. But on the
stage at Coleman High School early Saturday afternoon, they positively
glowed with a new awareness of the unique beauty each possessed. From the
audience, cheers, whistles and applause confirmed their newly heightened
The “Real Beauty Makeover 2008” event sponsored by Coleman Wesleyan Church
began in the morning with more than 250 women — daughters, sisters,
girlfriends, aunts, mothers and grandmothers — learning what colors best set
off their natural beauty.
Then it was on to how best to choose the hues and fit the clothes on
their individual body types. Some of the participants found out they’d been
short-changing themselves, including event co-chair Mary Geer, who brought
the house down when she announced from the stage that she’d been dressing in
black for years and just learned it didn’t show her to her best advantage.
“But,” Geer added with a twinkle in her eye, as she posed in a tasteful but
dynamic striped sundress, “as long as I let a little skin show between my
face and the black, I can wear it!”
Part fashion seminar, part revival, the “Modest is Hottest” theme of
the five-hour event stressed the importance of a young woman’s faith journey
in maintaining a level of self-worth that dictates positive life choices.
Presenter Shari Braendel, a former fashion industry professional, spoke
about her often difficult path to Christian service. Several years ago,
Braendel felt led to offer beauty makeovers to young women in a Miami
shelter house, and she has spent the time since bringing scripture, prayer
and beauty tips to teenage girls who often need that kind of complete
package of self-affirmation.
Each of us is God’s unique creation, Braendel told the audience, so we are
each uniquely beautiful and powerful. She encouraged her listeners to lay
down what they perceived as their burdens, shames or sins at the foot of the
Her message and ministry was embraced by the young models and their friends.
Twins Katie and Kassie Reid, 18, of Saginaw, have dreams of becoming
photo models. Even so, Katie said, “It doesn’t matter what you look like;
it’s more difficult to acquire inner beauty.”
Said her sister Kassie, “Any girl can be beautiful if she feels good about
Tricia Sayers, a sophomore at Calvary Baptist Academy in Midland,
talked about the mixed messages she and her peers sometimes get about how
“You can be told you’re beautiful on the inside,” Sayers said, “but it’s a
question of being able to feel up to the world’s standards. It can make for
low self-esteem. And with low self-esteem comes low self-respect.” Which,
she pointed out, can lead to unwise choices.
But those choices can be overcome, noted Heather Willford, a Gladwin High
senior who’d been one of the young women singled out for a lengthy
discussion of dressing to complement body shape.
Hearing Shari Braendel’s story of mistakes repeatedly made and overcome —
bad marriages, financial reverses and destructive relationships — Willford
felt “It was cool to hear that someone who’s gone through that can become a
minister. It was unexpected.
“I’m learning that if people can’t accept me, I don’t need them. Or, in a
boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, I’m going to try my best to change for
him, but it has to be mutual.”
Willford’s classmate Luisa Woestmeyer, an exchange student from Cologne,
Germany, said she’d found that the seminar made her more comfortable with
her own self-image.
“Character influences physical beauty,” Woestmeyer said. “When I get to know
someone and really like them, they become even more beautiful.” She also
appreciated freely sharing the Christian message and fellowship with other
Coleman High sophomore Eryka Mitchell, one of the models who’d never before
walked the runway, said she wanted to “show the other girls how to have
modesty, but still dress right.”
She also got a valuable wardrobe tip along with her spiritual boost. “I’ve
never worn a jacket over a shirt before!” she exclaimed with delight.
Greeting the young women and their mothers after the event, Shari Braendel
marveled at how each of these seminars — which she conducts for Christian
groups all over the country — creates its own miracles.
“Sometimes, God ordains events for one person,” she said. “We get to be the
Reporter Cathy Nelson Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (989)