“The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice.” Anisa Tavangar, a 2018 Barnard graduate, recites Baha’i writing when I ask what beauty means to her. To Tavangar, beauty is a reflection of justice—it is a quality that extends beyond the standards of pretty and it is imbued with larger and deeper truths. During her tenure as its editor-in-chief, Hoot Magazine has become more than a fashion/beauty college magazine—it’s been a platform for the diverse identities on campus to creatively express and embrace themselves.
Tavangar, who double-majored in art history and Africana studies with a specialization in visual arts, loved fashion blogs and magazines during high school, so her interest in Hoot was no surprise. She joined the magazine her first semester of college, starting in the blog section. Tavangar remembers the magazine back in her first year as being conventional: one that was focused on broader fashion trends and styling beautiful students with items from their own closet. But Tavanagar saw potential for Hoot to forge a more personal and intimate relationship with the student body. She wanted the magazine to accurately represent the diverse campus.
Along with building an inclusive platform, Tavangar envisioned more campus-related discourse in a previously industry-focused magazine. She wanted to hone in on what creative expression particularly and uniquely meant at Columbia. Tavangar has made it a priority to diversify the voices and faces that Hoot presents, to consider if the magazine had a vary of body types, racial identities, hair texture, and “SEAS! We can’t exclude SEAS!” Tavangar says.
Although Hoot was a notable part of Tavangar’s college career, it wouldn’t be accurate to say it was the only major influence. “Delta Gamma and Hoot go hand in hand,” Tavangar tells me, “I can’t put the one over the other.” Tavangar is most appreciative of DG for helping her meet and forge relationships with people she would not have met otherwise. “I probably wouldn’t have a single friend in SEAS or athletes,” Tavanger tells me.
Tavangar has made a conscious effort, in her personal, academic, artistic and professional life to be inclusive, to be exposed to all kinds of students, and to put their voices on a larger discussion.
Tavangar has given so much to Hoot (which she prefaces to me was a team effort from her editorial board and contributors), when I ask her what life lessons Hoot has given her in return, Tavangar says, “Hoot’s given me more than I know now,” she continues, “I continue to discover [what Hoot has given me].”