Women of color discuss positive body image

Jasmine Alston

A recent article by the New York Times ran a story about “How to Get Away With Murder” star and Oscar-award winning actress Viola Davis, calling her “less classically beautiful.”

This raises the question, what is the definition of beauty? Even more so, it raises the question: What is the definition of beauty for a woman of color?

The “My Brown is Beautiful” workshop put on by Sacramento State’s Multi-Cultural Center offers a place for discussion for college women of color to bond and engage in conversations about body positivity.

The discussion took place Oct. 16. It was a closed space for women of color to open up about their experiences dealing with becoming more comfortable with their own body image. Along with the discussion, the women were able to open up in a unique way.

Aja Johnson, a 21-year-old student assistant for the Multicultural Center, coordinated the event.

She said the idea of the event came from conversations happening about body positivity on Tumblr and other social media outlets.

“The Body Positivity” movement is a way for women to turn their hatred towards certain parts of their body into something positive.

As music plays in the background, the discussion begins with defining what it is to be a woman of color and also some physical characteristics that women tend to focus on.

Johnson, along with Program Coordinator of the the Multi-Cultural Center Jessica Castellon, had artistic activities that helped with opening up the discussion and making the women feel more comfortable.

One of the task was the color wheel or to create something similar to a pie chart and each person colored certain sections that represented the parts of their body image they focused on the most.

“We made those wheels and it was like an identity wheel where you had to make it kind of like a pie chart and which ever part of your body image that you felt like you thought more about on a regular basis,” Johnson said.

Some examples for the charts ranged from one’s ability to how she feels about her hair and even skin tone.

Each chart represented the diversity of the women in the room and some were willing to discuss the parts of their wheel that had an impact on them.

Kristen James, a 22-year-old majoring in communication studies, found the workshop to be resourceful being that it was on campus.

She said that the exercise with the color wheel showed what some of the women were most self conscious about and that ability was a big issue.

Another exercise included a figure shaped like a gingerbread man and each person would cut out certain things that represented them. Such things included: eyes, lips, a backpack, and a heart.

“The idea behind the ginger bread person was to have people to be able to do something artistic,” Johnson said. “A lot of times when we talk about body positivity we think about them in the terms of what they look like and I think that it’s important to have that conversation but I also think that it’s important to have that conversation about how our bodies do things for us.”

There are other events that take place for the women of color on campus.

Last year, a conference for women of color took place on campus and there were workshops that tackled subjects such as colorism, identity and event the pay gap for women of color.

A conference will be taking place again in the spring semester happening on April 3, Castellon said.

Attends Advocates for Black Feminism meetings to find out more information about events, said James.

To find out more information visit the Multi-Cultural Center.