Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Women’s Lifestyle Committee

The Women's Lifestyle Committee was a student organization created with the goal of helping Westhampton women achieve the ideal of femininity at the time. Although it was branded as a “self-improvement” effort, it reveals the deeply entrenched gender norms that existed on campus at the time, and the emphasis placed on them. These norms included an adherence to femininity and beauty standard such as a slim physique, well-applied makeup, and fashionable clothes. Because the Women’s Lifestyle Committee began in 1977, it is overwhelming likely that the committee only catered to white women and promoted Eurocentric standards of beauty. During this decade, there were few black women on campus, no black faculty or administrators on campus, and a lack of black social life. Every year, the Women’s Lifestyles committee held “February Follies,” a week-long event with the goal of helping women "look their best."

Article "'February Follies' Set"

This year’s Follies featured a fashion show, makeup demonstrations, aerobic dancing, Weight Watchers sessions, hair cuts and movies. The Westhampton College Government Association directly funded the Committee.

Article "Feb. Follies Feature Self-Help"

For the 1982 February Follies, The Lifestyles Committee put on a “fashion show, free hair styling and cutting and make-up demonstrations.”

The Web 1978 Page 235

A photo in the 1978 yearbook shows a banner for the Women Lifestyle Committee's annual "Lifestyles Conference," which was held from January 27-29 in the winter of 1978. The theme of 1978 was "Partners in Humanity."

Article "Annual Conference to Feature 'Partners in Humanity' Theme"

This Collegian article describes the Women's Lifestyle Committee's annual "Lifestyles Conference," which was themed "Partners in Humanity" in 1978. The article subtly hints at the state of gender relations at the time. It says, "The workshop entitled 'Male Female Relating' will attempt to exercise activities so that men and women can regard each other as fellow human beings."

During this time, there was a push for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) which would have guaranteed equal rights for all Americans regardless of sex. The amendment did not pass. It is interesting the club’s birth just a year prior intersected with this resurgence of the feminist movement in America. The club can be interpreted as a reaction to the feminist movement by reinforcing gender norms as well as a Eurocentric standard of beauty.

Women’s Lifestyle Committee