Mercy’s College’s GLOWUP (Gay, Lesbian, Or Whatever U Prefer) Club filled the Hudson Hall first floor lounge with good vibes, helpful tips, and interactive activities on April 12. At one table, homemade face and hair masks were being made. At the next, paintings and canvases with empowering quotes were being sold. A plate full of cookies and treats sat next to a poster where visitors were encouraged to write something they love about themselves. And on the wall, there was a huge balloon-banner displaying the golden letters that spell out “Girl Power.”
This was all part of GLOWUP’s Women’s Health and Wellness Fair. Taylah Cox, who will be taking over as president of the club for the Fall 2018 semester, shares that the goal of this event was to promote natural skincare and haircare products, and to show students ways to take care of their minds and bodies with empowering and educational activities.
“For a lot of people in college, it’s really hard to go out and buy hair masks and face masks, so we wanted to have a fun event where they could make it themselves, and of course, it was free,” Cox shares. “We wanted to also promote women’s empowerment. We had a lot of fliers about self-love– we also had fliers about health, such as what to do when you’re on your period and things you didn’t know your vagina can do.”
The event was very well liked by members of the Mercy community, and that was because of the creative activities planned. One note in particular that was special about the event is that there were art pieces for sale by Cox and the other members of the GLOWUP Club. These stylish minimalistic paintings featured women and feminist phrases.
“I did a couple of arts and crafts for Christmas time to raise money for the club, and we kinda came up with the idea of selling paintings. It was easy because I had the art supplies, so we got some canvases and Sam and I made a whole bunch of homemade art that centered around women and empowerment,” says Cox. “It was a good way to create things to make the event more fun with a low budget.”
The GLOWUP Club also gave students the opportunity to make their own hair and face masks out of natural ingredients that can be found around their homes or even in the cafeteria, such as Greek yogurt, fresh fruits, coconut oil, and more. The club wanted to create an interactive and fun way for people to learn how to make their own natural products that can be used to take care of their hair and skin without breaking the bank. Especially with the rising costs of skin and haircare products, it’s hard for women in college to try out new brands, so this offers a fun and healthy D.I.Y. alternative.
Along with the skin and hair masks, informational fliers were given out about reproductive health, periods, and women’s health in general. It’s important to provide information on topics that colleges wouldn’t typically put out in the open. Cox believes that there should be more resources on campus to help out, especially making feminine products easily available to students.
“You don’t see much about it. Everyone knows you can get condoms and tampons at the health office and products at the bookstore, but the shop in Hudson Hall that stays open late at night doesn’t sell tampons or pads. I think the college needs to take into consideration the need for these items, as well on information on related topics such as STDs and other health issues,” she states.
Cox says that a rewarding part of the event was that it created a comfortable environment for a lot of girls to talk about what’s good for their bodies and what’s natural. No one was afraid to participate in the activities, make use of the free samples, and take the informational fliers.
She shared that her favorite part of the day was being able to take polaroid photos for people in front of a beautiful display of balloons that read “Girl Power.”. Being able to compliment and boost the confidence of women posing for their photos was a gratifying moment for her. Boosting the confidence of others and promoting self love and encouragement between girls was an important aspect of the photo-op.
She shares, “It was really nice to take the photos and let them know they looked beautiful. It would make them feel really good about themselves rather then be shy about taking a picture. I think that was really nice, and people loved the photos they got. It’s great to see people being happy about a photo of themselves.”
Next semester, Cox will be leading GLOWUP as their president, and her excitement and passion for the group can be seen by the way she speaks about the future, eager for what is to come. In the Fall of 2018, she plans to lead a creative festival based on the theme of identity.
Coming to America from Australia and being exposed to such a welcoming environment gave Cox the courage to come out, and has inspired her to create that same environment for others who may not yet be as comfortable with their identity. Joining GLOWUP played a key role in her embracing who she is, and the way she identifies as a gay woman.
“I don’t have a secret to hide. I can just be myself– and joining the club really helped me to feel accepted and allowed me to meet a lot of people who are going through the same struggles. They’ve helped me, and I’ve been able to help them, so becoming president of the club is an honor,” Cox shares.
GLOWUP hopes that this event will have encouraged more people to join them and their mission to provide a safe place that welcomes people of any identity. Making more parts of Mercy College welcoming is their main goal, and they have achieved this so far with the new gender-neutral housing for students who do not identify as cisgender and their allies, which will be taking effect next semester. In the coming semesters, they hope to work even harder to make the school as inclusive as possible.
“This group is a space for people to just be people, and not be defined by labels,” said Cox. “If you want a put a label on yourself you can, your label is accepted– and if you don’t, that’s equally as okay.”