Students explore true beauty

Ellen Kirtner

Alicia Miranda, a 32-year-old breast cancer survivor, told a group of students Wednesday at the Student Multicultural Center never to feel obligated to conform to others’ standards.

“Make everyone conform to you,” she said.

Miranda’s speech was a part of True Beauty, the final R U KSU event presented Wednesday by Advocates of Culture and Knowledge, Focus on the Future Inc. and the Women’s Center.

Christopher Hicks, Focus on the Future president, said the event was created to help address the problem of skewed image perception across all cultures.

“You don’t have to fall for what the media tells you you have to be,” Hicks said. “Beauty is not of the face but a light of the heart.”

Miranda told the students how she maintained her positive mental image through her experiences, which included undergoing a double mastectomy. She said she decided to put her health before society’s concept of beauty.

“A lot of women would rather be pretty than have their life,” she said.

She told the group that she sees beauty as an internal quality, a view she learned at a young age from her mother. She told the attendees to love themselves and to be happy with their flaws and imperfections.

“You have to be more than what you look like,” Miranda said. “Uplift yourself in an intellectual way.”

The program also included a discussion moderated by Marisol Lazo-Flores, Advocates of Culture and Knowledge vice president and a collection of video interviews on different individuals’ views on beauty.

Lazo-Flores said she was especially affected by an interview with a 14-year-old girl who immediately told Lazo-Flores that she didn’t see herself as beautiful.

“It could all start with your first Barbie,” one woman said in the film.

Lazo-Flores also asked the audience members to share their views on women’s beauty habits after revealing that the average woman spends $25,000 a year on beauty products.

“If I went a day without it, I wouldn’t recognize what I looked like,” said one woman about her makeup.

“I hate makeup,” said one male audience member. “It’s trying to hide imperfections instead of embracing them.”

At the conclusion of the presentation, Lazo-Flores asked the group: “What will you do when you leave this room?”

Whether by pledging to stop straightening her hair or to tell another person that he or she is beautiful, Lazo-Flores asked each attendee for one commitment to a new perspective on beauty.

Reginald Lewis, Advocates of Culture and Knowledge member, said the discussion is something that isn’t sufficiently addressed in society.

Lewis, a sophomore electronic media production major, said even men need to be more active in thinking about and discussing image issues.

Shakiyla Brown, freshman anthropology major, said the event had a greater impact on her than she had expected.

Lazo-Flores said her organization will continue to hold events to foster these discussions.

“We want to get to know them and continue to grow with them,” she said of her fellow students. “We will make the issues available because it affects us all.”

Contact Ellen Kirtner at [email protected].