"Cross-Cultural Body Image Diversity Panel: Defining Beauty through Cultural Standards" examines beauty.
What does beauty mean to you? A body that’s rail thin, toned or curvy? Dark skin or light? Hair that is straight, curly, dyed in rainbow hues or modestly covered with a headscarf?
These were just some of the ideas discussed at “Cross-Cultural Body Image Diversity Panel: Defining Beauty through Cultural Standards” on October 6.
The event was hosted by the Levermore Global Scholars Council. Matthew Bellomo, president of the council, said panelists were brought in from cultural organizations across campus. The panel consisted of Abigail Shepard, Black Students United; Melissa Jacob, South Asian Student Association; Sayyeda Khalfan, Muslim Student Association; Steven Joseph, a Haitian American and a member of Pi Lambda Phi; Josephone Chuah, Levermore Global Scholar and an international student from Malaysia; and Christopher Thompson from the Spanish Club. Tri Delta and Delta Phi Epsilon also collaborated on the event.
Bellomo said attendance exceeded his expectations: 80 people in the Campbell Lounge, which seats 60. But audience members—who also represented beauty in all its racial and ethnic variations—stood or sat on the floor rather than miss the event.
When Bellomo asked Devin Thornburg, Ph.D., a professor in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, who should moderate the panel, he suggested Anne Mungai, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and director of the adolescence and childhood special education program.
Dr. Mungai’s presentation was followed by a lively discussion on how other cultures’ standards of beauty differ from those of the Western world, how Western ideals are encroaching upon other cultures, the influence of the media and society, how negative body image can cause low self-esteem and how we can overcome these influences.
As one audience member said, it’s about not only seeing yourself as beautiful, but also appreciating the beauty of others in all its forms, and expressing that sentiment. Dr. Mungai closed the event by asking attendees to turn to one another and do just that.
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