The Meaning of Real Beauty
Through her UT Real Beauty initiative, Unnati Shukla actively raises awareness for positive body image, self-acceptance and the effects of colorism on men and women in recognizing self-worth.
By Aliyah Thomas, Mount Saint Mary College
As far as college initiatives go, UT Real Beauty has an important message to send, one of self-love with no reservations.
While Unnati Shukla has not been with the campaign since its beginning, her work as president has made a measureable difference in the campaign’s steady growth and success on the campus of the University of Texas.
Shukla is a Marketing and Plan II student at the University of Texas who, despite the pressure of a fast-moving senior year, makes time to head the UT Real Beauty campaign and partake in other initiatives offered by her college. UT Real Beauty—an initiative untaken by Shukla early on in her college career—encourages self-confidence and seeks to rebuild and redefine the meaning of beauty, making the campaign one that is close to Shukla’s own heart.
Her hopes for the future of the campaign are endless and, now that Shukla is director of UT Real Beauty, she has become a passionate-and equally-as-active part in making those dreams into reality.
“I was a part of Real Beauty during its beginnings and first year at UT. Before it became its own organization, UT Real Beauty was a campaign within another organization that I’m a part of, Texas Spirits. The reason I’m so passionate about this cause is because real beauty is something that every individual struggles with on some level. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past, it was very easy for me to get behind UT Real Beauty’s message.”
“We worked with KIND Bar, as well as other local Austin food/health companies and studios. We teamed up with The Tejas Club to host Pax Jones of #unfairandlovely, and we brought on Miss International and mental health practitioner Elise N. Banks.”
“I feel like the general attitude toward service is using it as a ‘resume builder.’ Especially in high school, I sought out service organizations with the intent of strengthening my college application. However, in college, I stumbled upon more meaningful service opportunities – ones where I could reflect on tangible differences, ones where I genuinely looked forward to establishing a connection with people and returning to regularly, ones that I was truly passionate about.”
“I am a member of Texas Orange Jackets, an honorary women’s organization that serves as the official hosts of the university. I’m a part of Texas Spirits and have been involved with the UT Longhorn Run, one of the largest collegiate-based races in the nation. I’m also a group fitness instructor at UT!”
“Most students have a ‘thing’ in college. The reason they get out of bed in the morning. What they can’t go a day without thinking about. Their passion. Everything I’ve done in college has either opened another door for me, or correlates to this passion of mine.”
“As this is a cause I am very passionate about, I always find myself bringing up Real Beauty – either directly or indirectly – in conversations.”
“People are constantly in a state of comparison. Especially in college, it is very easy to equate yourself to your grades, GPA, leadership titles, weight, and compare these quantitative figures with other people. Getting bogged down in this can be detrimental to your own introspection and self-reflection. The most important thing is you; focus on yourself before anyone else. Promoting positive self-image is important not only for one’s self esteem, but for their growth as well.”
“Positive self-image doesn’t necessarily mean thinking you are good looking, the smartest, funniest, etc. It’s recognizing that you have inherent worth regardless of your physical appearance or life circumstance. It’s knowing you deserve good things, and wanting to take care of yourself because you deserve good things.”
“The UT Real Beauty Campaign gained so much traction in its first two years that we decided to make it its own organization. As someone who had been working with the campaign for three years, I was happy to take on the responsibility of creating this new organization and structure for it to operate as successfully as possible.”
“Through UT Real Beauty, I gained a lot of marketing-related experience when it came to putting on promotional events and bringing an idea to life. During my first year with Real Beauty, I was one of the marketing chairs that helped in designing promotional and branding material for the campaign. My second year, I was the Outreach Coordinator, which involved overseeing design, campus and media outreach, and general marketing and promotional strategy.”
“As director of Real Beauty this year, my experience with the promotional side of the campaign allowed for the committee to establish a marketing strategy that built off years past, but also brought more creative and efficient ideas to the table.”
“Selecting a major was a process of elimination for me. I knew what I didn’t want out of an education or career, and picked marketing because it didn’t meet any of those negative criteria. However, I was lucky enough to find my niche and passion within marketing. For me, marketing is a happy medium between creative and quantitative, which ended up being perfect for a right-brained analyst like myself!”
“Plan II is an interdisciplinary honors program that is a major in-and-of itself. It places strong emphases on problem solving, critical and analytical skills, and particularly on writing – including a capstone thesis. I’m in the process of writing my Plan II Senior Thesis, an analysis of various marketing campaigns in the late-twentieth century to modern day, and how they’ve influenced the ideal feminine body.”
“In addition to having the campaign extend to other college campuses across the nation, I would like to bring in bigger speakers and have more interactive pop-ups and marketing activations throughout the U.S. For example, having large chalkboards in popular areas with the prompt “Real Beauty is…””
“UT Real Beauty is currently working on designing a template so that other campuses can have their own Real Beauty campaigns! If you’re interested in having a Real Beauty Campaign at your school, contact us via our Facebook page.”