By Rachel Gobep
People of different shapes, sizes, genders and ages strutted down the runway at the EveryBODY Fashion Show, an annual event to honor Danielle Peters, a former Youngstown State University student who passed away due to complications of bulimia in 2012.
Jennifer Frank, merchandising: fashion and interiors instructor, said the fashion show is put on annually to raise awareness for positive body image.
“There really are people of all shapes and sizes that [are not] always shown in the fashion industry … We want everyone to feel beautiful, and everyone to know that they are beautiful. Your size doesn’t define you. What defines you is what’s in your heart,” Frank said.
Frank addressed the audience at the fashion show, and asked if they have ever had the following thoughts:
“I’m not skinny enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not good enough … These are some of the thoughts that went through the mind of Danielle Peters,” she said.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, up to 30 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or a binge eating disorder.
Antonina Schubert works for NEDA, and was the guest speaker at the fashion show last year where she shared her own journey of recovery from an eating disorder.
She emphasized that everyone deserves love and everyone is important.
“A number on a scale doesn’t define your worth. It’s just another thing that describes you. Just like the hair on your head, the clothes you wear — it’s just another factor,” Schubert said.
She had the opportunity to walk down the runway, and said it was a way to embrace her own body.
“I’ve always been very insecure about going in front of people and doing things like this. So, it was definitely a way to get out of my comfort zone and really open up my horizons in my life,” Schubert said.
She said it’s important for people to embrace their own bodies and the fashion show does just that.
“To have a show where it showcases every type of body, showcases young people, older people … It really helps people feel understood, feel part of something and part of something bigger than themselves,” Schubert said.
She said the fashion show also encourages people in the audience to “rock the runway” and model.
“I think it’s a really great way to show that you’re perfect the way you are, and you don’t really need to change to be a model or be in a fashion show,” she said.
Schubert said her advice to someone who may be struggling is to take the first step and open up to a trusted person.
“It can be extremely scary to take the first step, but it’s going to be the best step you take in your life. You could finally feel the weight lifted off your shoulders and feel free,” she said. “It really does bring you happiness in recovery.
The fashion show was put on by fashion students in the productions in promotions class, and they learn from start to finish how to produce and promote a fashion show.