It was way back in 1972 that an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was proposed, guaranteeing equal treatment under the law for all persons regardless of gender. Sadly, the ERA was never ratified and probably never will be, but there’s another way to look at the matter. The fact is, women have made enormous strides in this country without a constutional mandate, and in a way that’s even more satisfying that if laws were in place forcing us to be treated on a level equal with me. Extraordinary women like those we met and saw at the 2008 Women’s Conference in Long Beach, California showed what’s possible with time, determination, brilliance and incredible talent. They showed us how far we’ve come, even if there’s still a long way to go.
This is a blog about beauty, so let’s get to the point right away: the women in the spotlight at this event were magnetic in the best Beauty Prescription tradition: accomplished, supremely confident and intelligent beyond words. We were dazzled by the array of women leaders and cultural icons who were in attendance: Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, journalist Christiane Amanpour, feminist legend Gloria Steinem, Cherie Blair, wife of the former British Prime Minister, supermodel and media mogul Heidi Klum, Chairman and CEO of PepsoCo Indra Nooyi, journalist Campbell Brown, Jennifer Lopez, California’s First Lady Maria Shriver, and many more. These were Beauty Buddies anyone would want. It was amazing to see all these women who are so different externally but are all beautiful in their own way. They all emphasized being part of both a local community and a global community, and agreed that the “glass ceiling” that Hillary Clinton spoke of so often was inevitably going to be shattered.
More than 14,000 people attended this year’s event, which was themed, “Be who you are. Feel it. Live it. Pass it on.” HIghlights included an exhibit floor filled with fascinating products and companies, a day’s worth of meetings and conversations, and the “Night at the Village” reception, which included book signings, networking and more. All in all, it was a fantastic opportunity for us to meet some incredible people and spread our message of inner and outer beauty and the Beauty-Brain Loop.
Shriver was especially moving. She spoke about facing your fears and shared her personal struggles watching her mom deteriorate and her uncle Ted Kennedy become ill. It was deeply personal and quite empowering and gave us both some added personal courage to face our own fears. She works all year on the conference as her personal project, and her daughters, who introduced her, have become part of it. That’s a woman who’s beautiful inside and out!
We also got the chance to spend dinner talking with Billie Jean King, which was a real thrill. Eva shares the same birthday with her, and we are so grateful for what she has done for women going all the way back to her “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match with Bobby Riggs to her being one of the first female athletes to proudly declare that she was a lesbian. As we’re both tennis players, it was a real high to talk to her. She
looked beautiful. She received the Minerva Award along with Hay House Publishing founder Louise Hay, Gloria Steinem, U2 singer and activist Bono and more.
A sign of the times, perhaps, was the prominence of men at the Conference. Years ago, men would have been the enemy at events like this; today, with the rising confidence and power of women it’s become more than OK to have men be part of the program. We all enjoyed the exchange between Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Warren Buffett, and Chris Matthews when Buffett asked Matthews, “If you could have changed your sex into that of a woman, would you have?” Buffett ducked the oddball question (he’s probably a little more focused on the economy these days), and Schwarzenegger came back with the quip “Here in California, they do have men that become women.”
A man, Bono, even had the quote of the event: “Women care more because they bear more.” Amen to that.
All in all, it was a fabulous, enlightening day. If you couldn’t make it, try to be there in 2009.
Debi & Eva