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Conference seeks to empower women PDF Print E-mail
Written by TRACY-ANN TAYLOR   
Friday, 05 October 2007
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Women of all ages, shapes and colors packed the Miami Beach Convention Center last weekend to get advice on how best to live their lives from O, The Oprah Magazine.

The second annual O You! women’s conference sought to empower the 3,000 women who attended on Sept. 29, just as the magazine does for its more than 15 million readers.

O, The Oprah Magazine gives women the tools  to explore and reach their dreams, to express their individual style, and to make choices that will lead to a happier and more fulfilling life, according to the magazine’s website.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most trusted women in America, inspires the editorial content, which ranges from health and fitness, to relationships, to beauty, to book reviews. Winfrey did not attend the conference.

“I think women have so much potential within themselves and what I like about Oprah and her whole content is that she inspires us,’’ said Tiffany Torain, 36, of Miramar, a subscriber to the magazine and  conference attendee. “When women share and contribute and motivate each other, our power is limitless.
So, I love just the environment that she puts us in. It causes us to think, causes us to make conscious decisions and just get off our butts and take over and I think we have the power to do it.”

The day-long event included seminars and workshops with the magazine’s contributors that scoped every area of women’s lives.

All across the building there was a sense that the women were motivated by what the speakers said and were preparing to make changes after they left the conference.  Women went home feeling inspired to look at their lives from a different perspective and see what they needed to do to improve themselves.

Many said they were empowered to take a class, find a different job, volunteer, and end stagnant relationships.

Keynote speakers were Emmy Award–winning talk show host, motivational speaker and O columnist Suze Orman, and Martha Beck, the magazine’s resident life coach.

Gayle King, O’s editor at large, along with some of O’s contributors, broadcast her radio show Oprah & Friends on XM Radio from the event.

“This conference brings the magazine to life,” said O’s publisher Jill Seelig. “It’s really an opportunity for women to see the faces that they’ve come to know and love in the magazine live and in person. Our aim is to help women live their best lives and we hope women walk out of here thinking differently about their lives, understanding the possibilities that are out there for them, and really walking away optimistic about what lies ahead.”

The conference comprised workshops led by O contributors who reflected the content of the magazine.
The Dream Big workshop offered advice on how to achieve life and work balance. The speakers for that workshop were Cindy Chupack, former Sex and the City executive and O’s sex columnist; Suzy Welch, business management expert, author and O columnist;  and Marianne Williamson, author and speaker on spiritual and personal issues.

Torain, who came to the conference with her mother, who flew in from New Orleans, said she learned how to make decisions in Williamson’s Ten, Ten, Ten discussion at the conference.

“What I learned for the most part is that it’s your life. It’s the decisions you make. You come up with a scheme of how you’re going to do it and based upon your expected outcome—how will this affect you in ten days, ten months and ten years—that’s how you make your decisions,” Torain said.

The sponsors—CoverGirl, Dove, TD Ameritrade, Hyundai, Hallmark, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, Doubletree Hotels, Liz Claiborne, and Revolution Health also conducted their own workshops.

Actress Joy Bryant conducted CoverGirl’s About Face workshop which taught women how to choose the right foundation as well as shade.

Sharon Weathersby received a ticket to the conference as a birthday gift from a friend, and she flew from Chicago just for the event. She said that because her life was chaotic, she found Suzy Welch’s concept of putting things into perspective and her advice on how to balance life when there’s too much going on was what she needed to hear.

The Body Wise workshop informed attendees on how to look and feel their best through a healthy diet, exercise and mindset.

Dr. Rita Freedman, writer and speaker on the psychology of physical appearance, encouraged the women to “dance with their reflection.”

Jim Karas, fitness and weight-loss expert, and Dr. David Katz, spoke on the importance of having  healthy nutrition and weight control.

Sharon Allen, 44, of Sunrise, said she learned from Chupack the importance of keeping a journal to write what you want to do and to check off each task  accomplished.

She said Chupack’s use of the airplane analogy of putting on your oxygen mask first before helping someone else inspired her.

“She was saying that you should always first think about yourself. I’ve learned so much. I’ve opened up my horizon,” said Allen.

At the end of the life-altering day, each woman had her arms laden with a Dove goodie bag and T-Shirt, a Doubletree Hotel chocolate chip cookie, a bag of Goldfish Crackers, and an O You! bag filled to the brim with magazines, books, Curve perfumes, Dove shampoo and conditioner, and so much more.

“It was like a recharge. I was on the right path, but it gave me more strength,” said Nery Sanchez of Orlando.

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Photo by Sayre Berman. Gayle King, editor-at-large of O, The Oprah Magazine, left, along with O publisher Jill Seelig, center, and actress Joy Bryant, are among the elite list of Oprah's friends who were at the second annual O You! conference on Sept. 29.
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