Ugly Sweaters Bring in the Big Bucks at RHA Charity Fashion Show

On the towering second floor of Lower Dining Hall, the Heights Room has undergone a spirited holiday transformation. Walls are no longer bare and everything in sight is adorned in Christmas cheer; the glistening fairy lights on every tree smile at all who enter. Christmas is definitely in town, and so it must be celebrated. Cut-outs of Santa’s face, an oversized candy cane that everyone longs to eat and a celebratory bell hangs on all four walls.

The room is enveloped with the chaos and clutter of a Boston College student’s room; Christmas sweaters are scattered all over the floor as amateur models eagerly pick out their favorite for the RHA Christmas Catwalk—an ugly sweater fashion show and sweater auction.

Everyone has settled into their seats ready to bid, onlookers already eyeing the sweaters they want to claim as their own. Christmas is not all cheer in the flurry of a winter wonderland, it is now competition, too. The emcee takes the stage to welcome the first batch of models and as they strut their stuff he chirps in that the sweaters worn “have been picked by Heidi Klum, and [were] hand knit by Mrs. Claus.”

Each sweater is decorated with the expected Christmas designs: the bobbing head of Frosty the Snowman, waddling penguins, ornaments dangling off of trees, elves packing last-minute gifts and the puffy face of old-man Santa Claus that vaguely resembles grandpa’s face on the morning after Christmas day when too much of the festive wine has been consumed.

But not all sweaters are quite so charming—some are actually hideous, which must be for good measure since it is the ugly sweater catwalk, after all. A model comes out swearing a blotchy over-sized Christmas sweater with patches of purple that are just too bright, a fiery red, a miserable green, an unapologetic pink, all topped off with a less than pure white. This knitted concoction can only be considered appealing during this time of year. There is something about Christmas that makes people giddy with unadulterated bliss that, ultimately, only ends with disastrous fashion choices anyway, so why not make it into an auction?

Riley Sousa / Gavel Media

Riley Sousa / Gavel Media

This charity event is hosted by the Student Programming Council of the Residence Hall Association, who is responsible for setting up a variety of events on campus.

“This council typically puts on RHA's large events for the whole student body, such as Mr. BC and BC Street,” says Grace Eisenbiegler, MCAS '18, who is in charge of the event. “The council has planned this event, along with our advisors from ResLife, and other members of RHA will be volunteering at the event as well.”

In its fundraising, the event serves to benefit the Boston Rescue Mission—a shelter and homeless services center in downtown Boston— but it is not without an entertainment factor for the BC community.

“We seek to provide a fun experience for the student body so they can enjoy the holiday season,” says Eisenbiegler. “The event is aimed at the whole student body, because we hope it is an event that everyone will enjoy.”

The event started off with the intended sales of sweaters, but quickly escalated into something else. The presenter suddenly switched from selling sweaters to Christmas trees, most of which went for $15-20. What drew the buyers to the trees may well have been the emcee’s announcement: “I believe Father Leahy blessed this tree before it got here.” Then he went for the quaint Christmas cut outs decorating the walls, which contributed to the lowest sale of the day of 77 cents. The highest bid was for that terrifying multi-colored sweater; it went for $40. The Christmas spirit (and fashion faux pas aplenty) really must be with us.

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