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Conference highlights society’s perceptions of beauty

Kristen Rice | Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Saint Mary’s hosted the Bold Beauty Conference for the fourth time Tuesday in the College’s student center, featuring student projects and presentations on society’s conceptions of beauty.

Seniors Laura Glaub and JoLynn Williams coordinated this year’s event with assistance from professor Terri L. Russ.

Glaub said the conference showcased a variety of perspectives on beauty.

“One person is doing a poem and [another person is presenting on] how to recover from sexual assault,” Glaub said. “We tried to do more hands-on events this year. There is a poster to write about what food men and women are compared to in the lounge.”

The project fair began at 11 a.m. in the student center atrium, and in the student center lounge, Barbie dolls created in Russ’s Female Beauty class this semester and in previous semesters were on display.

Some of the featured Barbie Dolls were the Trophy Wife Barbie from two years ago, the Regina George Barbie, Call Me Maybe Barbie, Teenage Barbie, 16 and Pregnant Barbie, SMC Barbie and ND Barbie, PMS Barbie and more. Each Barbie had below it an explanation of its significance.

Senior Anabel Castaneda said her Barbie was S&M Barbie.

“My Barbie goes off of the double bind that women have to live up to,” Castaneda said. “Women are expected to be one thing and then another thing again. Women are expected to balance that.”

Projects addressed topics such as the magazine Cosmopolitan, movies, phot shoppin, andsothers.

Saint Mary’s senior Kate Park said the project she created with senior Katie Greenspon concerned today’s plus-size model.

 “The new plus-size model is considered a size six,” Park said. “So a size six and above is considered plus-size, which we believe is absolutely ludicrous and that is why we are doing our project on that.”

Junior Sara Gray said her project focused on physical attractiveness in the work place.

“I’m talking about their weight, the look, and how that affects [women] when they go in for a job,” Gray said. “It’s so true that more physically attractive women get higher positions and more benefits. Seventy-fiv  percent of managers said they would rather have women work just as hard on their resume as their appearance. When you’re attractive they associate really good characteristics to you.”

Senior Kelsey Smolek said she focused her project on photo manipulation and went through advertisements of both male and female models to see how photo editors changed their appearances to make them look more attractive.

“[This manipulation is] sort of giving little girls and women an image that they can’t live up to,” Smolek said. “These types of images can cause bulimia, anorexia, and other issues.”

Gray said her project featured photos of celebrities such as Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, Kim Kardashian and revealed the heavy editing that went into their pictures. Women are given thinnerAarmssand stomachs, and men are given bigger muscles, she said.

“It’s just really disturbing to look at,” Smolek said.

Junior Amanda Stukel said she dressed in outfits depicting particular stereotypes on Saint Mary’s campus and Notre Dame’s campus to see how people would react.

 “A lot of people began to contradict themselves when they made comments,” Stukel said. “This definitely shows that people size you up within 10 seconds. We found that dressed up attire at Notre Dame was not as criticized as it is here on Saint Mary’s campus. It’s very much more relaxed here at Saint Mary’s.”

Glaub said the purpose of the conference was to inspire students to stick up for true beauty.

“There are events that teach you to fight back and be an advocate for female beauty,” Glaub said… “We’re trying to show people how to fight back.”