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Remember that nothing lasts forever: beauty, employment, pleasure, pain, youth ... or the flu." Chely Wright offers that nugget, and others, in her latest project: participation in an advice book for girls called Hands On! 33 More Things Every Girl Should Know: Skills For Living Your Life From 33 Extraordinary Women.
But she balks somewhat at labeling herself extraordinary. "I always knew I was extra-something," says Chely with a laugh. "But, seriously, I was so honored to be a part of this, especially when you look at some of the other women who contributed." The book features tips from such accomplished women as Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and "Miss Manners" advice columnist Judith Martin.
"We were asked to write a couple of pages on our approach to living and happiness, and I did mine in list form," says Chely. "I decided that was the best way for me. I also wanted my sister Jennifer to help me, because we enjoy doing creative things together.
"I think this book is valuable for any age group," Chely continues, "but especially for young women." She feels that society sends young females too many wrong messages. "Girls see actresses or supermodels on TV and think that's how they are supposed to look," says Chely. "But that's not very realistic."
This book, she hopes, will help kids focus on reality. "It's not about how much midriff you show or how your hair looks," she says. "I try to encourage girls to foster goals and have self-confidence, and that is what the book is saying as well."
At the same time, Chely realizes that she is part of a glamourous business, where looks are important. "I struggle with that every day," she admits. "I understand that I am a part of that dynamic and I know the message that gives. But I tell young people that what I do is not who I am. I sit in a hair-and-makeup chair and then go shoot a video, but that is my job."
Because of her career, youngsters naturally want to emulate Chely. She takes her role model status seriously, often speaking to youth organizations such as D.A.R.E., which encourages kids to stay away from drugs. Also, her Reading, Writing And Rhythm project raises funds for high school music programs.
"It's a great feeling to be able to help," notes Chely. "A couple of years ago, I really challenged myself to do more."
And the book presented a fresh challenge. "I really thought about what I could write that would be meaningful," she says. "My life experiences are somewhat limited compared to some of the other women. But I have been through some interesting stuff."
And now she has some interesting advice to share -- including her favorite: "Don't do anything to, or with, your body that you wouldn't want your grandmother to find out about."
-- Bob Paxman