‘Girls Night Out’ is about a lot more than just beauty

Posted at 11:36 PM, Feb 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-21 12:26:00-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - A program at the Children's Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University will change the way you look at any beauty salon.

The young women at Nesbit Salon Monday night may be hospital patients, but they're learning to really enjoy a girls' night out.  Walk by one stylist and you might have heard, " Alright, let's put in those layers."

The salon looked just like it usually does.  After all it's a place where girls can feel good about themselves.  And feel beautiful.  One client, albeit one that was only eight years old, was heard to say of a stubborn nail during her manicure, "That's a real problem."

This Girls Night Out was for teenage girls with facial differences who are patients at VCU's Center for Craniofacial Care.

"These girls are involved in years and years of therapies and surgeries and dental treatments so we wanted to give them something that was just fun for them to do," said Ruth Trivelpiece, the program's coordinator at VCU.

"A night that was fun to meet other girls that are similar to make them feel good about themselves."

Yes, indeed. Hair dryers blowing, scissors cutting, water running.  Nothing unusual here.  Girls getting their hair done.  Manicures,  Facials.

But look closely, and you'll see this program aims to treat the whole child, not just an illness.

"The first couple times we did this we had some girls come in that they had said had never cracked a smile never look them in the eye,"  said Carol Nestor, the owner of Nesbit Salon on West Main Street which hosted Monday's event.  "[But] by the end of the evening they were hugging,  all smiles.  It's huge for these girls."

And a surgeon who performs many of the medical  miracles know just what her patients get outside the hospital environment.  "They're really tired of being different," said Dr. Jennifer Rhodes, a craniofacial surgeon.  "They kind of tend to turn within, so having the chance to bring kids out of their shell, and make kids feel really special and beautiful really does wonders.

These are patients with cleft lips or palates, or other facial or vascular anomalies who can endure years of treatment, sometimes from birth until age eighteen or nineteen.  But on hand Monday was Alycia Rhodes, a stunning, local businesswoman who went through it all herself.

And she can tell young girls with authority, there truly can be a happy ending. "[Such events] helped me to realize I'm beautiful on the inside and the outside," said Trice.  "It helped so much just to get a haircut and feel good about myself."

This is the third year the Children's Hospital has offered Girls Night Out.  Coming soon Boys' Night Out.