To: Nassau Weekly
Last night my daughter, Lauren Lyon 06, read me excerpts from the recent Nassau Weekly article blasting the Princeton fashion show, Operation Style. Although there were many inaccuracies relative to the actual cost of the event, the school’s financial participation, and the money raised, my overall concern relates to the tone of the article and the writer’s misguided interpretation of pompous capitalists gone wild.
First of all, after watching the preparation of this charity event for two years now, I can honestly say that if the evening had only raised awareness for Operation Smile and its impact on third world children born with birth defects, it would have been a huge success. But the Fashion Show does much more than that. So much of Princeton’s emphasis has always been on bringing the world’s problems to the campus, through education and community service. This Fashion Show is not about fashion, and everyone who participates is clear about that. It’s about students creating a forum to refocus their energy, for a short time, away from books and parties, into something valuable for someone less fortunate than themselves.
While this writer misconstrued entertainment for some kind of lust for the spotlight, I saw 1,400 other impassioned audience members enjoying an evening filled with world-class talent contributing their limited time to a worthwhile cause. This article also pointed out that my wife and I spent $1,500 on two Operation Smiles. I believe the event actually raised enough money for 12 additional operations. I consider that an admirable accomplishment and was honored to have an opportunity to participate.
I’ve been involved in charity fundraising for over 30 years and I’ve never read a more scathing article criticizing the volunteers who worked tirelessly for months only to be ostracized for their motives. I hope that Princeton doesn’t fall prey to this arrogant portrayal of what should have been appreciation for the benefit and its philanthropic workers. What a crime it would be if this mean-spirited column discouraged future students from giving something back to those who need it most.
Proud father of Lauren Lyon 06
To the Editors of the Nassau Weekly.
Operation Style for Operation Smile is the single largest event on campus planned by students every year – this year we had a record breaking 1400 students in attendance, and in my opinion, it is one of the most important events of the year due to its duel nature. The show functions both as a conglomeration of different groups on campus – from all walks of life, all grades, and all interests – and as a forum to benefit a very worthwhile charity, Operation Smile. This year, through the support of parents, students, and members of the surrounding community, we made $13,460 in profit for the recipients of the life-altering surgeries that Operation Smile provides. Each surgery costs $750, bringing Princeton University’s contribution from the profits of the fashion show to eighteen surgeries for children of rural third world nations. Unlike the Nassau Weekly writer who stated that, “I’m still not sure what a cleft palette or harlip is,” (NW 6) please see the Operation Smile website for more information: www.operationsmile.org.
I would like to address the injustices and inaccuracies portrayed in last week’s Nassau Weekly in an article entitled, “Operation Vile”. Jessica Woods, the writer of this piece of ironically self-proclaimed “cultural criticism” did not contact myself or any other member of the Operation Style team, and therefore did not have one solid fact in a two page spread. I am all for freedom of the press, but that does not give anyone the right to diminish the eight-month efforts of sixty volunteers and forty models to produce an event which is both enjoyable and successful for the charity. In the article she stated that Projects Board gave Operation Style $15,000 dollars to produce the show, when in reality, we received $3,072. If you saw the show, you would be amazed at how far that money went. Parents who donated to the show were condemned for donating “Smiles” (surgeries) during the event. When is it ever ok to diminish someone’s selfless act of giving to charity? We should be praising everyone who put a dollar in the bucket because the end result was so incredibly noble. Our final profit was $13,460, which proves that my fellow students and their parents not only appreciate, through attending, the work and time that goes into the event, but also appreciate the cause that the event supports. This tremendous final product shows that most students on our campus have heart.
How could an educated person on this “aware” campus compose such a scathing article? Despite what she might criticize as “irony that the deformed children are judged because of their physical appearances” (NW 7), she neglects to realize that the fashion show is a charity event – charity events are exactly that – events to raise awareness of a cause and to bring people together for the express purpose of raising money to improve the life of someone less fortunate. Thanks to the “kids [who] spend other people’s money and put themselves on display for a good cause… [who] put [on a] fashion show, for God’s sake…” (NW 7), eighteen children with seriously devastating facial deformities will have a chance at leading a normal life. How could the author miss the final point by so far as to call people with facial deformities – the vary people the fashion show benefits, “the grossest thing I’ve ever seen – in or out of a circus” (NW 6)? It is the ignorant but vocal few who could sadly discourage participation in this tremendously successful philanthropic event in the future. The amazingly deserving cause aside, the fashion show in itself is the biggest success on campus. Who would want a spring semester without it?
I hope that unresearched and unproofread tirades such as this one do not discourage Princeton students from participating in not only Operation Style for Operation Smile in the future, but also do not discourage participating in any event for a worthy cause. The people who ran Operation Style did it from the heart, and their hard work paid off.
Event Chair, Operation Style