Local Currents: #NotBuyingIt


“Let’s stop buying that s—!” Maggie Hempen, Healthy Girl Festival founder.


col local currents David Vanderveen by Gabe Sullivan-2968Like the student who stood in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square, it is both inspiring and scary to watch a person you know dare to fail in their efforts to stop a colossal evil. Maggie Hempen and the women who put on the first Healthy Girl Festival last weekend did a great job standing up to systemic evil, took a risk and did something at the Festival of the Arts grounds on Saturday.

We should applaud and encourage people who are willing to stand up and make a difference.

The core message of the Healthy Girl Festival, which ran from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., was to empower girls and refuse to support negative images, stories and representations of women.

One focus of the event was “Miss Representation,” a film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, about the way that American culture, led by many elements in American media, demeans women. The film sparked a movement at http://www.missreprsentation.org with a variety of ways of engaging family, friends and communities to change the conversation about how we value females in society. One simple social media element is the hashtag #NotBuyingIt.

Newsom’s goal is to get people talking about what really matters in the lives of girls and women, to focus on their interior lives rather than the porn-star, air-brushed images that film, television and print media try to sell us.

There were also speakers who covered more serious issues like human trafficking, eating and behavior disorders and the environment.

More than just saying “no,” the festival was focused on positive images and input that is fun, cool and engaging.

Five women from the Soroptimists Club, which focuses on improving the lives of women and girls around the world, organized the Healthy Girls Festival. Hempen, a local Lagunan who has made our town a more festive and fun place for decades, used her powers of fun for good.

Maggie would have been excited if 100 people showed up and they had 15 vendors. Instead they had over 650 attendees and 45 vendors.

The event featured some great, hard rocking girl bands like Yours Truly, which features two Laguna Beach High School students; they ended their set with an insanely good version of “Barracuda” by Heart. Shaena Stabler and Denny Rambo killed it with her classic rock act, and the event wrapped up with a salsa demonstration that had the whole crowd doing the cha-cha-cha. Nothing says “positive energy” like the cha-cha.

If you’re going to change the world, start with a great party!


David Vanderveen is a Laguna Beach resident, husband, father and energy drink entrepreneur. His email is [email protected]

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