Professors and students at the Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt.


Women of AUP: Origin of the Storm

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Sarina Shirin Amini, a recent AUP graduate majoring in Entrepreneurship, created a project while at AUP that sought to redefine the traditional definition of "beauty" featuring different women from the university. Read about her interesting journey below. 

1) How did your attendance at AUP push you towards creating a project such as “Women at AUP”?  Was this a class project and if so what class?

Diversity at AUP isn’t just a fact, it is a philosophy. Since my arrival in January 2014 I realized that this environment will be nothing like I knew before, and I was so excited about that. I guess AUP’s strong values of openness and diversity have pushed me towards creating such a project. Also, the university counts a majority of women which attracts curiosity amongst young men in Paris. Each time I would say I am studying at AUP, men would directly point out how beautiful female students are over there. It got me thinking about the meaning of beauty and what was hidden behind this notion. What made someone beautiful? For me, it was difference that made AUP student body beautiful, thus I decided to show how beautiful women can be when they embrace their differences. It seemed like recognition of beauty was reserved to a certain kind of women at AUP (models, bloggers, owner of a designer bag), so I wanted to extend this right.

This project was not a class project, it was not intended to be judged or recognized for its quality rather than being appreciated for its sincerity.

2) Where did you get your inspiration for AUP Women from?

During my second year at AUP my English course had for its principal topic feminism in literature, thus I grew an interest in the matter. Later, I took two marketing classes that made me realize how often women role models are cliché in modern advertising. It is around that time I guess that I started developing a conscience linked to my womanhood and what it meant to be a woman. I felt angry and frustrated, just like many young women, by the unatainable standards of beauty displayed on social medias and wanted to show that women (at AUP) are beautiful in several different ways. I decided to associate photographs and texts to portray beauty through my eyes, at AUP. I met with several different women in Paris; I believe they have all been my inspiration for that project.

3) Are there women at AUP--mentor wise, professor wise, or student wise--that you would credit with guiding you down this path of discovery?

In a way, every woman I encountered at AUP guided me down this path, whether they are aware of it or not. Indeed, I had the chance to meet the incredible Professor Alexandra Svoronou that made me love Statistics, the passionate guidance counselor Sandrine Godt who is a model of empathy and intelligence, and many other female members of the AUP faculty and staff. Even though I did not have the pleasure to spend time in her company, President Celeste Schenck has been a model and an inspiration, especially for her work in feminist literarature. Seeing all of these empowered, beautiful women gave me the desire to become one myself and that began with sharing my writings and photographs, with humility and respect.

4) What do you foresee the project turning into in the near future?

I do not know what this project could turn into, I did it to express a view of beauty and femininity. What I do know is that I will never stop searching for beauty in people and things.  I am certain that I will have the desire to repeat this project, maybe a bit differently, once I am studying in another country for my Masters degree.

Also, during the months to come I’ll be in Morocco, where I will also encounter many strong and beautiful women full of paradoxes so I might repeat this experience in a different context.

5) What has been the feedback you have received on the project?

I received very positive feedback on the project from AUP students and friends. Almost all nine of the “Women at AUP” were surprised by the way they were portrayed in the project and how beautiful they could be. I think people perceived it as a shout of love for femininity in all its forms, which it is. Women at AUP is both a social and artistic project: “une ôde à la féminité”.

6) Do you have advice for the younger generation of women who enter AUP and slowly begin to find out what kind of women they will be?

We do not know what kind of woman we will be, we have all of these women in our head, these ideal versions of ourselves and we tend to think we have to choose one of them. Society makes us think that we can only be one version of ourselves. I do not believe it is true, I think each young woman entering AUP should keep in mind that we are infinite, we change and evolve and there is no definition of femininity, you create your own!


For Sarina's blog project "Women at AUP" click here.