As Uppers and Seniors flocked to their mailboxes to retrieve the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day workshop list, many were surprised to find that the program, “Dominant Standards of Beauty: How They Affect the Self-Perception of Women of Color ALL WOMEN,” is offered exclusively to women. This MLK workshop, led by former Andover College Counselor and Brace Center Faculty Fellow, Veda Robinson, will examine how beauty standards imposed by today’s society impact both white women and women of color. The workshop is designed to bring women of all races together to propose methods to combat the impact of such standards.
Although some are concerned that the “women only” aspect of this workshop may alienate male students who want to participate in these discussions, such an environment gives participants a safe space for discussion and puts the emphasis on female unity. This is a critical step in combatting the universal harm of unattainable beauty standards – but it is only the first step.
Beauty standards for women are often reinforced through competition among women themselves, but they affect our entire society. They are established and perpetuated by men, who play a major role in setting societal roles, and exclude those of unorthodox gender identities or gender non-conformists. As such, the discussion about dominant standards of beauty should include everyone.
Despite concern among some students that this workshop is counterproductive because of its exclusivity, all students are able take their own initiative to educate themselves about the impact of female beauty standards in society beyond this single event.
There are open resources on campus that offer chances for participation, including Women’s Forum and the Feminism Is Equality movement, among others. Andover could host a speaker at All-School Meeting, creating a public, mandatory opportunity for the whole community to engage in this conversation, or organize talks in dorms, a more intimate and private setting. Creating safe spaces and including all students in these critical discussions are not mutually exclusive and are both equally important steps towards the eradication of such damaging standards in our community and greater culture.
_This editorial represents the views of _The Phillipian _Editorial Board CXXXVII._