Saturday, January 12, 2008

Alek Wek: extending beauty beyond the Milan runways

"At last the big designers seem to understand that there's beauty in Africa. They all draw inspiration from Morocco, from the Nubian mountains, from all over the continent. The African influences surfaces every couple of years in the collections of Galliano, Ralph Lauren, all of them. They use the inspiration well, so it shouldn't be such a stretch to use models that aren't blonde and pale."
I snatched up this book from my local public library today -- it was on the "new additions" bookshelf and I have a weakness for glossy new prints that extends beyond my stacks of magazines at home. Alek by the Sudanese supermodel, Alek Wek, is a phenomenally insightful novel filled with more than just witty chronicles of her modeling career -- embedded within the text is a story about family values, a country crushed in conflict, and true beauty facing an ugly world.

I remember back in freshman year, my high school led a campaign to raise awareness and money to stop the terrible genocide going on in Darfur, Sudan. As an avid member of Junior Statesmen of America that year, I was also aware of the nationwide campaign influenced by my school called JSA4Darfur. These were all noble and wonderful efforts on the part of many students, but I am ashamed to say that I was only a passive participant in all of these activities. I knew there were terrible things happening in the world outside of my comfortable four-post canopy bed, but they felt distant enough for me to become a passive global citizen.

Reading Alek's book made me realize that society is not perfect -- but that doesn't mean we should recline back into our armchairs and forget. While many of you may have already heard about the Darfur crisis at school, I'm sure many others of you are still confused about what I'm alluding to.

To become more educated on how you can help (I know I need to learn more too!), I have a few starter points:
  1. Read Alek by Alek Wek -- I promise you, it will be worth the $17.00.
  2. Visit Save Darfur and Darfur: A Genocide We Can Stop. These websites can help prepare the resources that you need and keep you updated on the latest news related to Sudan!
  3. Constantly read the news everyday -- whether it's the local paper delivered to your doorstep by that cute paperboy or the online version of the New York Times. Awareness of all current events is an important part of being a good global citizen.
  4. Instead of giving meaningless gift cards as birthday presents, consider buying a goat for someone who desperately needs it for survival in the recipient's name from Heifer. It is completely tax-deductible and they even send you fabulous cards to compliment your honorable donation.

We can't all be beautiful ebony-skinned supermodels like Alek Wek, but we can do our part when the world is in need.

Miss Couturable
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