Ohio University Backdrop = Nonviolent Backlash


A recent issue of Ohio University’s fashion magazine Backdrop has had a whiplash of an angry effect on the Athens community, as students all over campus are in an uproar over what they feel was a racially and culturally discriminatory fashion spread that featured only blond, thin, white women. The spread, students throughout campus have been arguing, encourages eating disorders and does not fully or accurately represent that Athens or Ohio University community.

Kudos to Ohio University students, however, for the reactions, which include well-reasoned letters to local newspapers and some even more drastic reactions.

From The Athens News website on May 21, 2010. (click to enlarge)

The most action-oriented reaction on campus, however, is one being organized on Facebook, which includes a group of students who are aiming to react to Backdrop‘s spread through the release of their own psuedo-magazine, Backlash. In this “magazine” (which will likely be a blog that featured online), Backlash will mirror Backdrop‘s original spread with the inclusion of models from different cultural backgrounds and with different physical make-ups.

The Backlash community has done a great job leading their own type of “nonviolent” reactionary campaign. Let us examine their goals, and how they are approaching them in and effective Gandhi and MLK-esque manner.

Ultimate goals

  • To spread awareness to the community about the diversity relevant at Ohio University.
  • To promote self-love.
  • To create a tangible spread entitled Backlash which successfully exemplifies the different body times and diversity relevant on the Ohio University campus.

Achievement goals (and how they have been successfully implemented)

  • Spread awareness to the community about the general disappointment with Backdrop‘s original spread — this has been successfully completed through letters written to local media, as well as through a public Facebook page which expresses the concern of numerous students.
  • Express to Backdrop the same disappointment — this disappointment has been likewise expressed via the same outlets as states above.

Process goals (and how they have been successfully implemented)

  • Inform that community that the Backlash photo shoot and spread will be created and implemented — through Facebook event pages and Facebook groups, the creator and organizer of the Backlash concept has successfully generated interest with various participants on campus, including photographers, writers, public relations representatives and models.
  • Successfully plan and organize the photo shoot — via the same Facebook and e-mail communications, the group’s leaders have communicated with individuals in order to organize a photo shoot that is scheduled for Wednesday, June 2.

It is commendable to see a group of student carryout out their own (albeit small-scale) nonviolent campaign.

The only criticism I have for this group is an altogether lack of consistency in the main mission of this project. While many people are projecting the idea of self-love, on the event’s Facebook page, there seem to be some inconsistencies with whether or not to target disappointment and criticism towards Backdrop, or to simply promote the idea of self-love. In some of the comments on the Facebook page, hateful and violently-rooted language is surfacing between Backdrop staff who feel attacked and m, which shows that somewhere along the line there is a misunderstanding or lack of guidelines in reference to how critical situations should be handled.

As I discussed in previous entries, Gandhi saw these same inconsistencies during the Himalayan Miscalcuation; a lack of guidelines and congruency between participants eventually equally a chaotic and sporadically violent campaign.

Overall, however, it is interesting and refreshing to see a group of students handle their problems in a mature and nonviolent way, expressing to the community their concerns in an organized and well-thought-out manner.


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