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The Penn Beauty club initially began to address social justice issues within the beauty community, but is now focusing on expanding its reach.

Credit: Caroline Gibson

The Penn Beauty club, which was founded to address social justice issues within the beauty community, plans to build its presence on campus this semester with several upcoming projects centered on gender equality.

The club, which relaunched in the fall after it was formed in September 2017, has about 40 student members who review makeup products and conduct photoshoots that showcase interesting makeup techniques.

Penn Beauty President and College sophomore Via Lim said the club will launch a blog and bring a speaker from the makeup company Luci. They also aim to collaborate and host an event for Teen Health Week, an annual week-long initiative promoting mental and physical wellness for teens, to explore how the beauty industry impacts women's health. This year, the week will take place from April 1 to 7.

"Especially in regards to mental health we want to focus on eating disorders because it's a huge issue among young women in America," Lim said.

The club partnered with the program through Penn Beauty Charity Chair and College freshman Grace Wu, who started working with Teen Health Week while she was a high school sophomore. Wu worked closely with Laura Offutt, Teen Health Week's founder, while she was a blogger for Offut's website and a member of her teen advisor group.

Since the program began in 2016, it has been celebrated in more than 35 countries and has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, Offutt said.

“It’s just amazing to see how Teen Health Week has progressed because it started just as a Philly thing,” said Wu.

Penn Beauty President Via Lim. (Photo from Via Lim)

Offutt said while the program's collaboration with Penn Beauty is still taking shape, the club could host an event on mental health and beauty or partner with a local high school as part of the Teen Health Week.

Offutt added that the collaboration with Penn Beauty would help the program expand its message to college students. She emphasized that Teen Health Week's mission matters for college students because "brain development and social development are still ongoing quite actively during that time."

College senior Emily Cieslak, editor-in-chief of The Walk Magazine, said Penn Beauty is a valuable addition to the fashion and beauty community at Penn because the fashion magazine itself does not “always have room or space to write about beauty issues.”

Lim said Penn Beauty also hopes to address how the beauty industry "idolizes western beauty standards" and "pushes forward unrealistic standards for women." She also pointed out, however, that the beauty industry is starting to move in the direction of female empowerment. 

"Makeup can also be a powerful tool in a way of self-expression and individuality rather than a tool to fix your flaws," Lim said.