St. John the Baptist Parish in Lockport has challenged the media's interpretation of beauty. During a women's conference held in January, a fashion show rooted in virtue and modesty showed that although skin deep, beauty can be seen without showing skin.
Seven teenage girls got their hair and make up done and took to the runway displaying attractive, yet modest clothing taken from their own closets. Savanah Pencille, 14, became a model for a day because she thought it would be fun to show girls "they don't have to lower their standards. They're beautiful and they don't have to dress all skimpy."
A video presentation featuring former "America's Next Top Model" contestant Leah Darrow served as a centerpiece for the conference. Since leaving the interactive competition reality show, Darrow has become an apologist for the Catholic faith.
In her presentation, recorded at the Catholic University of Steubenville, Ohio, Darrow told the story of St. Maria Goretti who was killed at the age of 11, for refusing a neighbor's sexual advances. Her killer blamed print, mass media and bad examples for leading him down the bad path. Darrow warned girls not to give off the wrong message by the way they dress.
"Sometimes we dress or we act in a way that (says), hey, I'm dressing really immodestly and provocatively. You are teaching them how to treat you," she said.
Three women from the parish who had put their own personal gratification ahead of attending Church, spoke on how their lives have become better after putting God back to the center of their lives.
Aubrey Bailey, who took to nightclubbing at age 18, saw a change in her life after going to confession and receiving Eucharist for the first time in a year.
"When I walked out of that room I felt amazingly happy," Bailey said. "It was what I was looking for. When I was feeling sad and lonely, it was Him that I was lacking. All these worldly things were not filling the void in my life."
Another video showed how the media and certain young celebrities exploit their sexuality. Yes, Miley Cyrus was included.
Gina Artieri, 14, doesn't like those types of images being presented to girls her age.
"It does bother me a lot," she said. "They want to present us women in a different way than how we want to feel. It's like the media wants to take over who we really are. The media is sending a bad message to these girls. These girls get this message and it gets in their brain and they think its good for them. It's a really bad sin for God."
Katie Pollock took part in the conference to get out the message of the negativity towards women.
"We wanted to learn how our society is turning. They're not respecting women. They're showing how we are supposed to have God first in our lives," the 13-year-old said. "I wanted to help people, explain how we needed to make our society better and make our world understand more about what our society's coming to."
Tables with products by May Kay Cosmetics and Premier Jewelry offered products for sale. Both companies use a Christian faith-based philosophy in their business practices.