Shades of Beauty


Jordan Cone

To combat societal standards of beauty placed on women and the pressures that are felt as a result of them, Augustana College hosted the first ever Shades of Beauty Summit.
Ashley Allen, assistant director of the office of student inclusion and diversity, said the idea for the conference was based off of the needs of the students. “We scroll on our social media and see all these beautiful people and say, ‘This is what beauty represents’ and then look at our own selves and be like, ‘How do I compare to that?’ So, I just feel like being women in our society, we get uncomfortable because we see somebody that may look more beautiful than us and that just pressures us to be like, ‘Okay, we need to do this, this and this to ourselves,’” Allen said. “Regardless of our cultural differences, regardless of the shades of our skin…I just want all women to know that they need to own their beauty and that they’re beautiful in their own way.”
With the help of the Office of Student Life and a committee of 12 female students of diverse backgrounds, the event was originally planned to be exclusively for Augustana students. But, as word spread over social media, the summit was extended to anyone.
Allen said 150 attendees were anticipated, but due to the popularity of the event, registration eventually had to be closed as over 200 people planned to participate from all over the area. Women from Augustana, Scott Community College, Monmouth College, University of Iowa, Western Illinois, and the community were registered and though the event was intended for women, men were also welcome to attend.
The event ran from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 17 with Miss Iowa as the keynote speaker and performer. During two blocks of time, three different sessions were offered, with topics ranging from self care, self confidence, self development, self love, self motivation to self worth.
These sessions were given by women from the community. Among them were a published author, a life coach, Miss Iowa, the founder of One by One, an Augie graduate and Dr. Jessica Shultz, the Associate Dean of the College.
Dr. Shultz is also an Associate Professor of Psychology at Augustana and was invited to speak about self care.
“What I’d love for students to take away are some concrete ideas: ‘How do I live my best life? How do I thrive in all that I’m doing? What are some concrete things that I can practice?’” Shultz said. “That intentional time to just dive in, I think is just gold.”
“As women, we usually compare ourselves with each other which I think is unhealthy. This program encourages us to celebrate our individual beauty,” First-year Etta Brooks said.
“In our promo video there were girls who felt less than beautiful because their skin was a little bit darker or their hair was a little bit different and the whole message that we want people to understand is you were born a certain way for a particular reason and you don’t have to feel less than beautiful regardless of what society says,” Allen said. “We want them to be empowered to celebrate who they are.”
Sophomore Jacob Washington helped with set up and serving of food.
“I feel it’s important for women to see each other in various aspects ‘cause you have women here who are business women – even the caterer is her own black business self-starter entrepreneur – you have women of all different shapes, sizes, positions and it’s important for other women to see each other from different positions to see they do have it all and they can have it all,” Washington said.
“Every once in a while it’s okay to just log off. Seriously,” Miss Iowa, Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw, said about social media. “Comparison is the thief of joy. I know we all feel pressure to look a certain way on social media… that’s not healthy. That’s not healthy to compare yourself to because you’re not like anybody else. So being very mindful of, if you are comparing yourself to other people on social media, whether that’s what they’re doing, what they look like, what they ate that day – just don’t compare yourself.”
Anh Cao contributed to this story.