The Evoluer House Executive Director Cheryl Ann Wadlington testified on Monday, March 5 at the request of 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass in regard to City resources that can be used to lessen the strain on the Philadelphia School District during its time of budget woes. Over 600 girls have graduated from Wadlington’s core program — the Evoluer Personal Development Workshop — which has successfully operated since 2001.
“I cannot stress enough, it is time for the city to step up to address issues that are facing youth in Philadelphia,” said Wadlington. “Teen violence is out of control, the STD rates are at epidemic proportions — particularly as it relates to girls of color — and studies show that when you provide access to positive developmental materials, young people will develop better self-esteem which can only enhance their quality of life by eliminating violent behavior, and contribute to better participation in school.
“So when character education, which is what we do, becomes a part of educational offerings the following are improved: student attendance, school climate, and positive attitudes towards themselves and others. Even though there are budget cuts in the education system, and even if you do institute more funding for the educational system, no matter how much you educate a person, if they do not feel good about who they are on the inside they still will not perform at their highest level.”
Wadlington’s testimony coincided with the March release date of her book, “The DivaGirl’s Guide to Style and Self-Respect” (The Elevator Group, $15.95), a hands-on guide (co-penned with Sonya Beard) that advises girls of all ages on fashion tips and beauty secrets, playing nice with friends and keeping guys in check, and how to handle themselves in cyberspace and in the real world — all while keeping their cool points. It also addresses more serious issues that affect a girl’s self-esteem and her ability to succeed. This book isn’t full of random “shoulds” to memorize. It explains all the “whys,” so today’s girl can make wise decisions.
Over many years of operating her popular modeling seminars, self-image workshops and urban charm school, Evoluer House in Philadelphia, Wadlington has talked to — and listened to — thousands of girls. She knows their interests and struggles; she understands where they’re coming from and where they’re going. “My whole mission is to empower women,” explains Wadlington. “This book is the first time I am ever revealing my background, because sometimes when you’re on a mission you don’t look back. Then I had a vision of what I wanted to be, and now that I’m older I look back and I am so happy that I am alive, but by the grace of God I am.”
When she was in the sixth grade, Wadlington’s father died and everything changed. The flood of emotions overwhelmed the Southwest Philly youngster, and her family life went into a tailspin. “I started out as a troubled child because of all of that built up anger that I had when I lost my dad, like a lot of people when they lose their dad,” recalled Wadlington. “And in the Black community, they think that a herb or church will cure everything as opposed to therapy, so I had to go along my way the best way I could. I just was angry, and angry at everything I could see so I went to reform school.”
Wadlington went on to major in advertising and communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and fashion merchandising at Bauder Fashion College in Atlanta, Ga. This strong educational foundation in fashion communications and history led her to develop an exceptional style of fashion reporting. While her style established her as a highly sought after consultant throughout the East Coast, she recalls that she had to overcome some major obstacles to achieve her goals. “I’ve been an international fashion editor for years, written tons of books and been a college professor,” says the author.
Today, Wadlington can count decades of working in the international fashion and beauty industries, is an accredited member of the press corps for New York City’s annual “Mercedes Benz Fashion Week” and is a co-author and contributing editor of “SoulStyle: Black Women Redefining the Color of Fashion” (Rizzoli/Universe Publishing).
Wadlington has received countless proclamations for her contributions to youth development from the governors, mayors, premiers and more. Most recently, she’s appeared on the silver screen in “The Tents,” a 2011 documentary chronicling the history and evolution of New York Fashion Week, included Wadlington’s astute observations along with interviews of designers and front row fixtures such as Betsey Johnson, Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan, Isaac Mizrahi, Tommy Hilfiger, Nina Garcia and Suzy Menkes. Currently, Wadlington’s latest book has been selected for several elite list of the 2012 style books to watch.
“I applaud this precious book,” said Princeton professor and cultural critic Cornel West. “Thank God for Cheryl Ann Wadlington!”
“The DivaGirl’s Guide to Style and Self-Respect” will be released on March 29 and is available for pre-order at Amazon.com