February 08, 2012 - In the face of media celebration of bad girls stands local resident Chelsea Gheesling.
Chelsea Gheesling, in middle, with participants at a Good Girl Comeback meeting. Photo provided (click for larger version)
She recently started Good Girl Comeback, a series of conferences for teenage girls, emphasizing self esteem, modesty, and morality.
"It's today's counter-cultural event," said Gheesling, who is also marketing and communications director at Everest Collegiate High School and Everest Academy in Independence Township.
"What the world gives girls through TV and magazines doesn't make them fulfilled and happy – the partying, drinking, sleeping around," she said. "There are better ways to become fulfilled girls. I didn't have to do those things and I'm happy."
More than 100 middle and high school girls have gone through the program since it started last November. The all-day forums include discussion on character and self-worth, giving spirit, faith and morality, and intellect.
At middle school conferences, they discuss changing friendships, how to handle gossip, and ways to dress cute but modestly. At the high school level, topics also include how to date in a respectful way.
At the end of the day is a 90-minute session for parents.
"We talk about different ways to raise good girls," she said.
The idea came from a year-long volunteer project, when she and her group went around the country talking about growing up according to moral convictions.
"I wanted to continue when I got home," she said. "Every time I talked to girls, they would ask what's the next thing they can come to. I could tell there's really a thirst for information."
Goals include as many conferences as possible, as well as building a general good-girl movement.
"These are challenging times," she said. "I want to do what I can to help girls hear what they don't hear on TV and movies, about faith, respect for self and others, and strong friendships."
A counterpart program for teenage boys is a good idea, but she'd need help.
"It would be better if it's from a guy. What do I know? I'm a girl," she said.
Upcoming Good Girl Comeback events include: Middle School, Feb. 25, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; and High School, April 28, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m., both at St. Mary's Prep, Orchard Lake.
For more information, check www.goodgirlcomeback.com.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.