The A.S. Womyn’s Commission’s annual runway show will take place at the Corwin Pavilion this evening, as part of the group’s ongoing efforts to challenge societal beauty norms and represent the vast diversity of the campus.

The ‘I Am Beautiful’ Runway Show, which will be held at 5:30 p.m., will include live student-run performances of spoken word, in addition to a runway show and other acts open to student participation. The runway aspect of the event aims to shine light on body image topics that individuals in contemporary society oftentimes struggle with. Students can volunteer to participate in the runway to share their input on body image issues or to provide their own personal testimony. A.S. Womyn’s Commission hosts several events each year, all of which deal with various issues affecting women both on campus and in local communities.

Kristina Didero, Womyn’s Commisson member and third-year sociology major, said the event will replicate mainstream runway shows but will include other aspects intended to make participants feel more comfortable.

“It will be made to be as much like a real fashion show — where the model will have their picture taken at the end of the catwalk,” Didero said in an email. “Models are allowed to walk with other people as well, so those who don’t want to walk alone can still feel more comfortable participating in that portion of the event.”

Popular modern media frequently emphasizes body image standards to an extent that has caused many to become “nit-picky” and “obsessive” with their own bodies, according to Didero, who said these individuals sometimes said never reach total satisfaction with their appearances. Didero said such an unhealthy dynamic should change, as it sets norms that make individuals practice excessive self-criticism.

“I feel like the phrase ‘great body’ is never associated with anything other than the ideal 36-24-36 type for females,” Didero said in an email. “I personally feel like I don’t go a day without hearing multiple comments from various people criticizing their image and essentially indulging in negative self-talk. The conversation needs to change in terms of this topic, and the focus on appearance should be diminished.”

Womyn’s Commission Co-Chair Mariam Agazaryan said the ‘I Am Beautiful’ Runway Show will highlight the problems with standardized beauty, while drawing focus to the many different ways one can be beautiful. Agazaryan said discussion of this topic is especially crucial since the vast number of unhealthy living conditions, such as eating disorders, occur as a result of unfair beauty standards.

“There is no one ideal type of beauty and what the media constantly displays isn’t the only kind of beauty,” Agazaryan said in an email. “We put on this event every year to raise awareness about beauty stigmas and eating disorders that arise as a result of this. Everyone is beautiful. We want to use the show to allow everyone the opportunity to be models to demonstrate what they believe is beauty.”

Agazaryan said she believes that society’s definition of beauty is flawed as a result of fashion magazines and advertisements that promote unrealistic, and sometimes unhealthy, ideals of beauty.

“Those ‘beautiful’ people we see are artificially created through Photoshop and digital media,” Agazaryan said in a email. “They don’t exist. I think that beauty is skin deep. I have met so many beautiful people that don’t necessary fit into the ‘standard’ of ‘beauty’ whom I believe are a hundred times more beautiful than what I see in magazines.”

However, the examples set by these media outlets and advertisements can lead one to practice a sense of self-doubt and self-criticism that is difficult to escape, according to Agazaryan.

“It’s hard to ignore the issue of body image since it’s so internalized,” Agazaryan said. “Everyone at one point or another in their lives has questioned their body image. I, personally, still have issues with my body and it’s been so internalized that it’s difficult to shut it off sometimes.”

Students can participate in the runway or sit in the audience members, and those interested in modeling can email Womyn’s Commission.

Womyn’s Commission Historian Olivia Jaffe-Pachuilo, second-year french major, said the campus organization is aiming to encourage self-confidence and appreciation for one’s body.

“We want to promote body positivity and self-love,” Jaffe-Pachuilo said in an email. “Everyone deserves the right to feel beautiful in their own skin and their own bodies. Ideally, I hope that people would go away feeling empowered and more at peace with their bodies.”

A version of this article appeared on page 6 of the May 29th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus