SUNY New Paltz students will soon have a chance to overthrow the media’s portrayal of body image and present their own at an upcoming pageant.
The Caribbean Student Organization, in collaboration with Realistically Embracing All Ladies (R.E.A.L.), strives to educate people about the importance of having a positive body image. The clubs will promote body positivity through their “Ms. Caribbean Pageant” event on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 4:30 p.m. in the Student Union Multi-Purpose Room.
As ethnic beauty does not always match the media’s often superficial standard of beauty, Andre Smith of the Caribbean Student Organization said the clubs seek to redefine what students consider beautiful rather than idealizing the mainstream depiction.
“Both of our organizations believe that this topic is not talked about enough within today’s society,” Smith said. “There is not an ideal look, no matter what the media says.”
Smith also disapproves of the impact traditional beauty pageants have on the younger generation and said that young people are influenced to believe that beauty is directly correlated to factors like size. Smith said this warped view leads to women trying to reach an unrealistic and non-diverse ideal of beauty portrayed in mainstream media.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a supporter of traditional beauty pageants,” Jenny Liba, a second-year psychology major, said. “It’s not good for self-esteem. Younger girls that see them don’t understand what the media does. It’s not real.”
The two groups chose to collaborate to promote education and appreciation of culture, especially Caribbean heritage. Each participant is assigned and represents a Caribbean region and learns about that region’s culture. Participants are judged with consideration of body image and personality.
“We want to teach students about body image,” Smith said. “How to love yourself and embrace what others may consider to be flaws.”
However, these flaws can also be self-imposed as it is all a matter of perception, Dr. Lori Wynters, a professor in the Psychology Department said.
Wynters said it’s important for both girls and women to learn that their image is self-determined by their own choices and that they shouldn’t be influenced by external ideals of beauty.
Liba agreed that education is important in developing a better self-perception and disregarding others’ ideas.
“It’s important to teach about body image,” Liba said. “People become aware that many different types of body images can exist. We can help others understand that how we view our body image is more important than how others view us.”