UT Real Beauty wraps up two weeks of defying beauty standards

Raga Justin

Students strolling through the West Mall were showered in compliments last week as volunteers for UT’s Real Beauty campaign crusaded against negative body image and media stereotypes of beauty.

The two-week long campaign, themed #TheBiggerPicture, received highly positive feedback, co-director Michelle Lu said. 

“Real Beauty itself kind of spun off (from) destroying the media’s perception of beauty and defining it yourself,” said Lu, a business honors and psychology senior. “And (#TheBiggerPicture) is basically this idea that each person is more than one aspect that other people have defined for them. Every individual is holistic in that way.”

Although originally conceived by Texas Spirits in 2014 and run exclusively by its members, the campaign has gradually opened up leadership to any interested students. This year was the first time the campaign was headed by non-Spirits: Lu and co-director Alexandra Dumitru, a biomedical engineering senior.

Lu said one of her goals for this year was to develop a cohesive theme that would span all of the 11 events planned.

“Last year’s theme was kind of vague, so we really wanted to brand this more and have a theme that was evident to outsiders,” Lu said. 

Events included a popular therapy dog session, a screening of the body image documentary “The Illusionists” and a lecture by keynote speaker Rachel Lindsay, a UT alumna who appeared on “The Bachelorette.” Participants also used hammers to smash scales at a newly introduced event, which computer science sophomore Karishma Patel said generated a lot of buzz. 

“A lot (of people) have body image issues, so it was nice to relieve that anger against societal ideals,” Patel said.

Marketing and Plan II junior Mehraz Rahman said the theme stemmed from the power of social media in creating personas. Rahman said it’s easy for people to present their best side when they are actually struggling internally, which can create harmful misconceptions.

“When you look on social media, you don’t see everything,” said Rahman, who volunteered with the campaign. “You see the perfectly cultivated, funniest, cleverest, prettiest (and) the most polished version of a person. That is such a tiny piece of the puzzle, (and) it’s not the entire picture. That can be harmful. We’re trying to say there’s a bigger picture that’s not always in the public eye, and that’s important for our well-being.”