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Miami Students are “Better than Barbie” in Women’s Empowerment Week

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Miami (OH) chapter.

At Miami, it’s very easy to feel negatively about yourself. Who hasn’t seen our ranking for one of the most attractive universities online? With websites like this floating around, what girl wouldn’t feel even semi self-conscious? Does this mean us females constantly have to dress up for class, or even have a certain build? Do we have to be extremely involved with everything, and have lots of friends?

These are the struggles that women deal with every day, and various organizations on campus have taken action to eradicate these silly ideas.

Monday afternoon I had the privilege to attend the events of the first day of Miami University’s Women’s Empowerment Week (MWEW) hosted by Miami’s Panhellenic Association: Zumba and “Better Than Barbie.” It was refreshing to see that Miami takes the initiative to promote empowerment for all types of women, and that it is women, themselves who work together to create these events.

On Central Quad, upbeat music that just makes you want to get up and dance could be overheard everywhere, and the energy was evident. All of the girls in charge of the events were smiling, and laughing with each other. Seeing these women working together and working for the same cause was very inspiring, and made me wish I was part of their team!

I had gone solo on this event, but I couldn’t help but want to join in on the dancing that was going on. Zumba instructor Brittany Flannigan is always great at getting girls (and even boys!) excited about dancing and getting a great workout in. Her enthusiasm is phenomenal, and I could tell that every girl dancing on that field was excited to be participating in the event.

As I watched a crew of Miami women complete their workout, I wondered why it was important to incorporate Zumba in Women’s Empowerment Week, and found the perfect girl to ask. Ellie Sophocleous, a senior in Miami’s Greek Life who was working on behalf of MWEW, was more than happy to talk to me about this first day of events.

“Zumba gives you great energy and a rush,” Sophocleous said. “You’re getting a workout in, but you’re having fun.” 

When asked why she loves Zumba, she said:

“It’s a fun activity that gives you a good exercise. Mainly college women are targeted for this week. It’s empowering that this week enforces a healthy lifestyle, too.”

The “Better Than Barbie” exhibit looked totally adorable, and the girls loved this, too. There was a Barbie box that people could step inside and portray the “Barbie look” while holding up a sign that described something they loved about themselves, and why this made them better than a typical “doll.” Seeing girls write so many different things about themselves was very heartwarming. We always view qualities like being curvy as flaws, but these women were looking at their “flaws” and embracing them.

Spencier Ciaralli, who works for the Women’s Center, answered one important question I had in mind: “What does it mean for women to be ‘Better than Barbie?’”

“I think it’s when women feel empowered even when society tells you otherwise,” she said. “It’s about loving your imperfections. Being ‘Better than Barbie’ is being empowered by your strengths that you sometimes can’t see. I’m short, stubby, and I lift. And I love it.”

Sophomore Sara Wenger agreed with Ciaralli, saying that women should embrace their imperfections and love those parts of themselves.

I hope all you women at Miami get to experience this awesome week of activities planned for you, and remember to check out our HC Miami event story to see what events are up for the rest of this week. Remember, your imperfections aren’t imperfections, but merely qualities that make you unique and an individual!

The best part of this event for me? I walked around with gum on my black pants, and had to turn them inside out so I could get home without being stared at. Talk about an empowering fashion statement!



Melissa is a senior journalism and psychology major this year at Miami University. She is the president of the Her Campus chapter at Miami University of Ohio, and is a member of several other student organizations.