By Erin Turner
On the evening of Feb. 23, a red carpet rolled through University of Oregon dorm, Global Scholars Hall, to act as a runway for anyone brave enough to show off some of their favorite outfits. Whether it was a reason to wear those 5 inch heels that have collected dust over time, or just to step out of one’s comfort zone, all were invited to participate in the second annual Body Positivity Fashion Show.
Hosted by the Womxn of Color Coalition, all genders and sizes were encouraged to join as a way to celebrate body confidence and the beauty in diversity. Models were asked to bring three outfit changes: a ‘feel good’ outfit based on anything that makes the them feel comfortable and happy, one taking inspiration from their favorite style icon and one of their favorite streetwear looks. Janiel Santos, one of the event coordinators for the Womxn of Color Coalition, asserts that none of the models were asked to purchase anything new for the event; rather, the Body Positivity Fashion Show aims to highlight self-expression and what makes each individual unique.
“We really wanted to make sure that they knew to take ownership of whatever it is they wanted to wear, and to know that it is their differences that make them each beautiful in their own ways,” said Janiel.
When much of what is displayed in mainstream media can center around one distinctive look or body type, the Womxn of Color Coalition hopes to encourage body positivity by promoting the beauty in difference. This fashion show demonstrates that people can have a wide variety of skin colors and body types, each representative of their identity and deserving of the same recognition. Rather than focusing on the clothes themselves, the show concentrated on boosting self-confidence and encouraging those around you to see their own beauty.
“I think the best way to feel body positive, and secure with who you are, is to just check in with yourself,” said Bianca Benitez, University of Oregon freshman and participant in the show “Make sure that whatever you are wearing makes you feel comfortable and happy, through any angle you are looking at. Don’t waste time worrying about other people’s perceptions of you.”
Bianca has been attending the Womxn of Color Coalition meetings every week since fall term. While she was initially hesitant on whether she should enter the show, Bianca believed that what helped motivate her was being surrounded by such an inspiring and supportive group of women.
Throughout the show, each model captured the spotlight in three of their favorite outfits, which they felt embodied their personal style or just made them feel happy. On either side of the runway, the crowd cheered for the debuts of each distinctive look, incomparable to any other.
“Something I like to remind myself of is that everybody looks different and everybody acts different,” said Michiko Srinukkhakel, a University of Oregon freshman and participant in the show, “and there’s just something beautiful about that.”