Bringing awareness to inner beauty

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There wasn’t a swipe of mascara, a brush of blush or a smear of lipstick amongst more than 100 female students, staff and teachers at Belen High School on Thursday.

Abigail R. Ortiz-News-Bulletin photo: More than 100 female students, staff and teachers attended Belen High School on Thursday barefaced to bring awareness to inner beauty, self-esteem issues and eating disorders. Participants included, from left first row, Sarah Wallace, Brandi Quintana and Stephanie Gallaska; second row is Krysta Griego, Lucia Varela, Alisha Silva, Felisha Silva and Leona Martinez; third row Charlene Mier, Victoria Williams, Kaydra Arisman and Skylar Foster.

“It’s important for girls to take one day to not wear make up to impress guys, because everyone is beautiful with or without makeup,” said Senior Alisha Silva.

The goal of not wearing makeup was to promote real beauty, and that self-esteem begins from within through the “Barefaced and Beautiful, Without and Within” campaign, said Therese Shafer, BHS health aide.

“It takes teenage girls a lot of courage to not wear make up to school,” said the event’s coordinator. “It’s amazing how many came (into the nurse’s office without makeup).”

The campaign, sponsored by the Renfrew Center Foundation, aims to spark conversations revolving around healthy body image and inner beauty, according to the foundation’s website. This is event is held during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week from Feb. 24 through March 2.

BHS senior Kaydra Arisman said she decided to not wear any makeup as a way to support her family and friends who struggled with eating disorders.

“It’s a good way to say that you care,” Arisman said.

Statistics reveal that 44 percent of high school girls have eating disorders, Shafer said. Women usually have negative feelings about their body image, she said.

“This is a day to think that you are beautiful, because how many teenage girls see themselves as beautiful on a regular basis?” she said.

During the year Shafer has worked at the school, she’s noticed quite a number of students are depressed, which she believes is entwined with self-esteem issues.

“They don’t like to eat breakfast or lunch because they feel fat, and they’re not fat — they’re beautiful,” she said.

Shafer decided to bring this event to the school after hearing about similar events around the nation on MSNBC. This struck a chord with Shafer since she struggled with her weight as a high school student.

“I wanted to be thin, but I came to realize that I needed to be comfortable with who I am, because that’s all that should matter,” she said.

She organized the event in one day and had white fliers promoting the event in purple letters hanging from hallways throughout the school.

For participating, students who stopped by the nurse’s office received gift bags, donated by Walgreens, containing samples of shampoo, face wash, foundation cream, hair oil and a granola bar.

The overwhelming response left Shafer without enough gift bags for everyone. She will use donations from Quick Bail Bonds to purchase more items.

“It’s important for people to see that pretty girls don’t have to dress up to show how pretty they are,” said senior Felisha Silva.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.