Trinity College Unites to Challenge and Redefine Beauty Standards at ‘Beauty Across Cultures’ Event

3 min read

Iqra Athar ’26

News Editor

In an evening dedicated to understanding and challenging global beauty norms, Promoting Health Awareness of the Body (PHAB) hosted “Beauty Across Cultures,” . PHAB is a student-led initiative under the Women and Gender Resource Action Center (WGRAC). This gathering, held on Thursday, April 4, at Dangremond Commons, marked a collaborative effort with seven other student organizations: Trinity College Black Women Organization (TCBWO), Asian American Student Association (AASA), Balkan Students Association (BSA), International House, Kappa Sigma, La Voz Latina (LVL) and the Women of Color + Coalition (WOCC+). 

The event aimed to dissect the pervasive influence of Eurocentric beauty ideals, fostering critical dialogue among students from diverse backgrounds about their personal experiences with these standards. The program commenced with an array of international cuisines, including vegetable-mixed rice, wraps, chicken wings, dolmades, samosas and pakoras, setting the stage for an evening of rich cultural exchange.

As the evening progressed, presentations illuminated the multifaceted definitions of beauty, emphasizing the significant role of Eurocentric standards as a byproduct of colonization and their continued impact through the perpetuation of narrow beauty ideals. Discussions extended to the role played by the media and its profound effects on individual body image perceptions.

An innovative segment of the event involved internal reflections, where participants engaged in discussions about the impact of beauty standards on their personal lives. Representatives from student organizations played a crucial role in shaping the event’s narrative, bringing forth unique perspectives from various cultures and communities. Representatives from TCBWO delved into the implications of colorism and its roots in anti-Blackness, highlighting its effects on the Black community, and further discussed the movements in the community including owning to their traits through considerations of hair, nails and fashion within the context of beauty norms.

AASA members shared their journey of navigating familial and societal beauty expectations, advocating for a broader understanding of beauty that values inherited traits over mere appearance. LVL explored Latin American male beauty standards, touching upon the historical influences of colonialism and the Casta system, and the evolving challenges to traditional notions of attractiveness.

BSA discussed the pressures of conforming to Western beauty standards, including the trend of skin bleaching, as a reflection of the broader body positivity movement. They also addressed current body positivity movements. Nawal Khurram ’24 offered insights into South Asian beauty standards, emphasizing the colonial legacy that equates fair skin with beauty and luxury, despite the region’s geographical predisposition to darker skin tones due to high melanin levels.

The Kappa Sigma fraternity contributed to the conversation by examining Western-imposed male beauty standards, critiquing the preference for physical dominance epitomized by figures such as Calvin Klein models.

The event included a discussion segment where participants shared their experiences and opinions on beauty standards through questions provided on sheets at each table. One participant noted beauty standards as a form of social control. The open discussion segment underscored the event’s inclusive ethos, with many participants donning traditional attire, adding a visual testament to the diversity of beauty standards.

“Beauty Across Cultures” not only provided a platform for critical discussion but also demonstrated the Trinity community’s commitment to embracing and understanding the rich tapestry of global beauty standards. The full house at Dangremond Commons was a testament to the interest and engagement of the student body in challenging and broadening their perceptions of beauty across cultures.

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