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How It Started 

Michelle B. Barnes founded Real Images in January of 2014. Her story goes that while working at the Arkansas School for Math, Science and the Arts (ASMSA), she began hosting self-image workshops for the students on an annual basis. When she moved on for another career opportunity, her sorority called her and asked if she could facilitate a women's empowerment workshop. She agreed and has hosted such a workshop every year since. 

She decided to combined these experiences and need in the community to register Real Images as a nonprofit in the state of Arkansas (on her lunch break) on a cold January day. The organization was launched to the public in August of 2014. 

The organization started out with panel discussions for women to engage in and establish community with each other, while still keeping the core program of self images workshops for school-aged girls that Michelle created at ASMSA.

How It's Going 

Over the past decade, Real Images has emerged as a connector of women, an advocate of issues that affect women, and a champion of girls who have big dreams for their future. 

Events such as the Phenomenal Women Luncheon, Ladies' Power Hour and #SlashTheShame Power Run & Walk have created spaces for women to support and celebrate each other. The self-images workshops, MIRROR Project, has served more than 100 girls and the MIRROR Awards has granted nearly $10,000 to girls to practice a passion that makes them feel good about themselves. 

As we move into our 10th Anniversary, we are excited to expand our advocacy for women who face endocrine diseases that affects fertility through the #SlashTheShame initiative. 

There is more work to do and we thank the community for trusting us to bring real conversations and issues to the forefront. 

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