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Setting the Stage for Inclusion
“Inclusion” is an important piece of not only the Black United Body annual fashion show but also a big part of what Bentley’s Black United Body student organization stands for.
“I’ve come to understand the history of not just the fashion show but the Black United Body,” says Reginald Fils ˊ21, who directed this year’s event and was production director last year. “BUB represents the power of diversity, the importance of inclusion, and the spirit of hope for a better tomorrow.”
The energy was high as the show took place on a recent Saturday night in the Bentley Arena. A diverse group of student models took to the runway to showcase collections from local designers. Floral décor tied back to this year’s theme, “A Seat in the Garden,” and highlighted the idea of a garden representing a diverse, beautiful community.
The show featured a mix of media on the arena Jumbotron, including videos, messages about the Black United Body and shout-outs to sponsors. A DJ kept the night moving between sets to give time for the models to change into the next designer’s creation. Bentley’s hip-hop dance group “Craze” performed, as did spoken word artist Javier Rivera ’22, to the enjoyment of approximately 500 audience members. Seeing the event come together reminded the show’s assistant director Anjela Maravilla ‘21 why she got involved in the first place.
“The fashion show is important to me because I know it strengthens the Bentley community,” says Maravilla, a Marketing and Global Perspectives double-major. “It allows every type of individual to come into a room, enjoy themselves and create a sense of unity.”
She also values the message that the fashion show sends to the broader Bentley audience. “In today’s climate, staying united as a community and creating an accepting space for every kind of individual is so important for the betterment of society.”
Bentley’s Black United Body student organization launched the event in 1991. Last year marked a location change to the new multipurpose Bentley Arena, which opened in 2018. This year, Fils introduced sponsorship opportunities to the program, which allowed attendees to learn about career opportunities at the companies.
Fils, who grew up attending fashion shows that his mother produced, says the chance to lead a committee of six students to organize the show and serve as a student liaison to the Bentley Executive Board helped him develop important leadership skills.
“My committee revealed not only who I am as a leader but also as a friend,” Fils says. “They gave me recognition in times of great leadership and let me know if I came up short, so I could correct a decision. It made me comfortable with the uncomfortable and for that I am grateful.”
Maravilla, a “fashionista” who planned fashion shows at her high school in Jersey City, New Jersey, and also worked on last year’s Black United Body fashion show, said the show allowed her to gain more experience in the field she’s most passionate about and develop leadership and team-building skills.
“The show created a space for Bentley students to show their creative sides in a way that welcomed people from any background or culture,” she says.
The Black United Body fashion show, organized and put on by students, provides an outlet for students' fashion creativity and highlights on-campus diversity at Bentley.