By Quedus Babalola
“We live in a world where violence and negativity are deemed normal,” Runway president, Keolani Williams said. The first program the Runway club put together this semester was called, “You Are Beautiful”, a program that takes place annually to promote community and body positivity, self acceptance through modeling and fashion.
The Runway club was added to the campus clubs list 10 years ago and has been able to put on an annual show every spring semester where all the money raised is donated to a charity.
Body positivity has been a huge trend all over social media with hashtags like, #ILOVEME, #FLAWLESS and #BodyPosi floating all over various social media platforms. Celebrities on social media ranging from Nicki Minaj to Ariana Grande helped plus-size model, Lesgeo Legobane condemn a twitter troll that used a picture of two females and captioned it “Girls I like v. Girls I don’t”. Legobane simply replied “I don’t like you”, and the tweet is on it’s way to reaching 100 million likes and has been retweeted 316,000 times. Minaj tweeted words of encouragement to Legobane, while Grande liked her tweet and told her she’s beautiful.
“I think it’s pretty awful that we have people who thrive and find happiness from hurting others. The moment I saw that tweet, I sent it to two of my eboard members and we promised to make sure that this years, You Are Beautiful was different from the rest. I wanted everyone to come out for the event from every walk of life so we could show the naysayers that they can’t break us with their words,” Williams said.
Tarah Simon, secretary of the Runway club and junior political science major, and Williams arrived to Winnick dining hall at noon and the models started to flood in right after. Chloe Rosario and Shawn Henry were the photographers for the event. The models painted negative words on their body that they had been called ranging from “Anorexic” to “Fag.” Henry photographed the models in dark scenery and had them pose in ways that showcased defeated and hopeless moods. “I used to be the president of Runway before I graduated and this is one of my favorite programs to host because the models really show out and we have many people who aren’t models come to the event to support. I chose to shoot the dark words in a form where you weren’t really looking at them, you were more so looking at the derogatory word or label that someone gave to them,” Henry said.
Rosario, a junior photography major took the second set of photos. The models used bright colors to cross and cancel out the negativity and some even wrote over the negative words with positive words, hearts or something that was beautiful to them. Rosario brought the models outside into the sun where the light showcased the new words and drawings on their bodies. “I chose to shoot them in the light because the words reflected positivity and happiness. Body positivity needs to be talked about more and seen more. You never know how much words can a ect somebody.” Rosario said.
The models all left with positive mindsets and were happy that they were able to turn their insecurities and aws into positive things. “I believe body positivity is a movement that impacts people’s daily [lives], once you embrace yourself you can spread love to everyone else around you. This photo shoot gave me the courage to take the bad names people called me and turn it into a positive and embrace my flaws. Model and junior criminal justice major, Keyara Williams said.
The photos taken during this event will be showcased in the Endzone located in Hillwood Commons on Oct. 26 during common hour. The models will also be handing out “You Are Beautiful” stickers and paper will be handed to everyone to write something positive about either themselves or someone else.