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Women can feel 'power' at mall expo

September 28, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN - Women and girls sashayed across the platform in dark hues and purple palettes, chic sacks slung over their shoulders. Modern music unleashed pulsating beats as the announcer dished directives for looking good and shopping smart.

A sizable audience of curious shoppers gathered to behold the fashion show Saturday afternoon, just one of many features offered as part of the Celebrating Women Event & Online Expo at Valley Mall.

Francesca Dallamea, 41, of Hagerstown, went to the expo with her daughter, Elena, 6, and her sister, Giorgina Young, 43, also of Hagerstown. Young's niece was a model in the show. Dallamea said she was eager to learn about current fashion trends.

"I'm interested for my daughter, interested in getting her new outfits," Dallamea said. "(The fashion show) gives you an idea. I'm kind of out of it."

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Along with the fashion show was all manner of entertainment, from a dance performance by Ballet and All That Jazz to a body combat demonstration by representatives from Gold's Gym in Hagerstown.

The theme of the expo was "Empowerment of Women." Vendors promoting health care, businesses, products and services relevant to women lined the corridor. Valley Mall, Antietam Cable and The Herald-Mail sponsored the event.

Julie Rohm, general manager of Valley Mall, said the expo was intended to inspire and empower a diverse group of women.

"This event showcases what women can do from ages three to 93," Rohm said. "The oldest woman in the fashion show was 76. We had women of all ages. There is style there. You don't need to be a supermodel."

Rohm said the gathering of entities concerned with women's interests is positive for the community.

"This shows the unity of women coming together from all sorts of fronts, and it gives everyone an opportunity to see how far we've come," Rohm said. "And the majority of shoppers are female, so it's a great tie-in for merchants, too."

Rohm also said the event marked the first anniversary of H.E.R. Local, the only women's magazine in Washington County, which is published by The Herald-Mail.

"I think the magazine is a compliment to all of us," Rohm said. "It shows what local women think, what they do and what's out there for today's woman."

Elaine Snyder, 55, of Smithsburg, was shopping at the mall with her mother, Martha Lynch, 73, of Hagerstown, when the two stopped to watch the body combat demonstration. Snyder said she was pleased to find out about the Celebrating Women event.

"Sometimes, women don't feel very appreciated, especially if they're not working some big corporate job," Snyder said. "I think sometimes staying at home and being a mom is one of the most valuable jobs. But while you are doing that, it feels like you're not contributing anything until you look back and see what you've done. So I think it's good to do something to show appreciation for women."

Jill Kittell, a body combat instructor for Gold's Gym, said her work harmonizes with the "Empowerment of Women" theme. Body combat is a mixed martial arts, aerobic workout.

"With body combat being mixed martial arts, it makes women feel unleashed, empowered," Kittell said. "It challenges them to get fit and get better."

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