Students strut for health

USF student models at Tuesday night’s S.T.R.U.T. fashion show sought to redefine beauty rather than flaunt the latest trends.

The S.T.R.U.T. (Sexy, True, Refined, Unique, Tasteful) fashion show, which was hosted by Wellness USF and REACH (Responsible Education and Action for Campus Health) – featured information tables in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom for counseling and psychological services, victim advocacy, LGBT alliances and Campus Recreation.

“People think being a certain size is the most beautiful thing; people think being a certain build is the most beautiful thing,” said Erica Allen, a senior majoring in psychology.

Allen, a REACH Peer Educator and Wellness Center employee, proposed the idea of hosting a campus-wide fashion show to highlight beauty across cultures, abilities and body types after attending a national conference on health during National Eating Disorder Awareness week in April.

Allen said the show fulfils her hope to create an event during the fall semester that would promote positive body image.

“A lot of college students face these (body image) issues,” Allen said. “There are not a lot of events, though, that help students get the resources they need.”

The event featured two USF student speakers who encouraged the audience to make peace with their bodies as they had done.

“Growing up, I felt my body needed to look a certain way: large breasts, shapely body, like a movie star. That doesn’t work out for most of us,” 50-year-old speech communication major Ariane Anderson said to the audience.

Anderson lost her left breast to cancer within the past year, but said, “I’m happier today than I’ve ever been. Who I am inside is who I really like.”

Abigail Wold, the second speaker and a 30-year-old student majoring in environmental science and policy, contracted meningitis at age 22, losing both her legs below the knee. She currently uses prosthetic limbs.

“It was exactly what I needed to realize the beauty I have inside,” Wold said. “Real beauty comes from within.”

Freebies that included brochures, buttons and condoms were given to students who stopped by the tables. Food was also provided by Gogos Greek Grill, Tijuana Flats, Kaleisia Tea Lounge and Planet Smoothie. Raffle prizes featured products from MAC Cosmetics, Torrid Clothing and Costco Wholesale.

Kim Chism, a registered dietitian at Wellness USF, said she hoped students took away the message of capitalizing on one’s assets and building on strengths.

“Healthy body image is truly embracing who you are as a person,” she said. “Overall, there is a message to be healthy, which is positive. Many people think college students don’t care.”

Behind the runway, a PowerPoint presentation featured the services and resources offered for students seeking help for body image-related issues.

Amanda Preece, a senior majoring in biology, volunteered to model for the show.

“I think showing everyone’s beauty is important and what everybody needs to see,” Preece said.