In 1996, Joan Rudder-Ward was given a book concerning the state of girls in our culture. Reviving Ophelia, by clinical psychologist Mary Pipher, PhD, grabbed her attention with its front cover statement
An eye-opening look at the everyday dangers of being young and female, and how adults can help
As a mother and very involved aunt of girls, leader of a girl’s group at her church, and with a major part of her studio photography business involving photographing girls (high school seniors, headshots, pageants and debutante balls) she knew she had to see what these ‘everyday dangers’ were.
The book did prove to be an eye-opener for her–revealing problems caused from
living in a ‘look-obsessed, media-saturated culture’–a culture which Piper describes as ‘girl poisoning’
Advertising, popular music, television, magazines–all play a part in bombarding girls with messages that they need to look, be, and act a certain way to be beautiful and acceptable. Studies have shown that the onslaught of these messages– which glorify such things as body obsession, sex, and violence against women– undermine personal self-worth and esteem to the point where most girls suffer diminished self- esteem somewhere in that transition from childhood to teen-age, while boys do not.
Studies further show that this undermining of the personal self-image is a major contributing factor in the current rise of eating disorders, self-destructive behaviors, and risky sexual activity in adolescent girls.
Joan searched for a way to use her photography skills to help girls reject the negative messages and instead embrace themselves to become all that God created them to be–young women with purpose She spent several years thoroughly researching girl issues, participating in focus groups, and studying photo-therapy techniques.
In completing her MBA thesis in marketing, she focused on using marketing techniques for influencing social behavior.
She created her specialized photography program using best practices found in working with girls and young women.
Her banner program “Being the Me I was Created to Be” began in 2005 with a group of 20 teen girls. The program has blossomed and expanded, and Joan also trains other to use the program.
Joan Rudder-Ward, MBA, CPP, is the founder of Positive Image Network – an organization with the mission to provide resources to support parents, guardians, and mentors in nurturing the personal development of adolescent girls and young women.
She is the CEO of the Image Maker, a visual communications company she started in 1985.
Joan has earned the Certified Professional Photographer designation from the Professional Photographic Certification Commission. She accomplished this after meeting rigorous requirements measuring her artistic, technical, ethical, and business competence. The certified designation is held by fewer than 2,500 photographers worldwide.
She has been published in magazines and newspapers, and is the recipient of numerous awards for her service to the community through her photography programs, as well as awards for her producer and photographic expertise.
(Download Professional Photographers of America article here)
Additionally Joan serves on the board of several organizations that work for the benefit of women and children. She is a sought after speaker for conferences that promote the welfare and well-being of children and girls/young women in our society.