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More than 250 guests gathered at Cipriani 42nd Street on Tuesday for the New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center spring luncheon benefiting the hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Vanessa Traina Snow and Julia von Boehm made a pit stop on their way in for a premeal smoke despite the sweltering Manhattan weather. Inside, a clutch of charity luncheon regulars including Lizzie Tisch, Serena Boardman, Lauren Santo Domingo, Eliza Bolen and Sofía Sanchez Barrenechea sipped bellinis and daintily nibbled on the canapé offerings.

“Even in a room full of powerful, strong women like this, self-esteem is an issue that affects us all,” said Dr. Laura Forese, chief operating officer of New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and hostess of the Chanel-sponsored function, which raised more than $400,000. “Self-esteem is not only an important issue for young girls. It’s important for women throughout their lives, and it’s so essential that we have events like this so we can really focus on it.”

This story first appeared in the May 22, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Self-esteem would be discussed at length during a panel discussion titled “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: A Conversation About Beauty and Self Image.” The conversation, moderated by Juju Chang, was with the hospital’s Dr. Gail Saltz and Dr. Amy Wechsler. Saltz telegraphed the importance of the issue during cocktails. “Today’s women are under extraordinary pressure to look physically beautiful and physically young in a way that, frankly, is inconsistent with real life,” she said. “And they’re supposed to look that way while being the superwoman mom who takes care of her family and has a great career.”

After the first course was cleared, a video rolled, telling the story of a recently pregnant New York-Presbyterian patient whose daughter had grown a mass on her neck in utero. Mother and child are healthy thanks to the hospital’s efforts. After the lights were turned back on, Veronica Swanson Beard and Fabiola Beracasa were visibly weepy. “I’m the most sensitive person in the world,” Beracasa said, between self-deprecating laughs and wiping her teary cheeks. “I cry at commercials.”

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