YOUNGSTOWN – The fashion merchandising class at Youngstown State University is gearing up to head back indoors for 2022 and its EveryBODY Fashion Show.
It’s the 10th anniversary for the nonprofit event geared to bring awareness about eating disorders, said Jennifer Frank, who teaches fashion merchandising at YSU. She said the first show was in 2013 following the untimely death of Danielle Peters, 22, of Austintown, a student in the classes. She was loved by many who didn’t understand at the time just what she was going through.
“This is the 10-year anniversary of Danielle’s passing, and we are planning on some different things from previous shows,” Frank said. “We don’t want to give away too many details – you have to come to the show and see what happens.”
Danielle suffered from bulimia, a disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight. Those suffering often overeat, then feel guilty and induce vomiting, purging or fasting.
The show was started by Priscilla Gitimu, who also teaches in the fashion department, to honor Danielle’s memory and raise awareness about eating disorders. The show continued every year except 2020 when the pandemic brought on a lockdown. Last year, the fashion department took the runway outdoors so it could continue. The show also had some help thanks to a special endowment.
“We started this endowment fund after she passed to bring awareness about the struggles and fatal consequences of eating disorders,” said Danielle’s mom MaryAnn Peters. “I am thankful to all the people at YSU that work so hard every year to put this show together. I am involved with NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) and try to do a walk with them each year. It is so important to me to honor Danielle’s memory like this each year. Danielle would want her story to help other people. “
There is still a concern about the pandemic as the show date nears.
“COVID is a concern once again this year but we are taking all the necessary precautions to put on a safe, fun event for everyone participating and attending the fashion show,” Frank said. “We are working closely with the health department and following all the university policies.”
This year’s show is set for 6 pm April 13 at the Beeghly Center at YSU. Doors open at 5 pm
Frank said some local retailers are providing the fashions for this year’s show.
“We do not sell fashions or make any money from this show,” Frank said. “Our one and only goal is to help raise awareness about body positivity. We hope everyone leaves feeling strong and beautiful. Our message is that beauty is not defined by the size of your jeans, it is defined by what is inside your heart. ”
She said there are nine students in the fashion show productions class this year who are helping put this together. The students are very aware of what is going on with eating disorders and how the fashion industry seems to focus on being skinny.
“In the design aspect, it is no secret the fashion industry is made for slender people,” said YSU student Maddie Fessler, who grew up in Minerva. “Often, clothing that comes in larger sizes was not made to fit bodies of that size. Rather, it is the smaller size made proportionally bigger with no thought into how the garment will look, fit, or how it will make someone feel. ”
She said in the EveryBODY show, the goal is to strive for representation of all body types.
“I feel like it is the most important thing in the fashion industry to recognize different body types,” she said. “The fashion industry is arguably one of the most influential industries, especially considering how accessible social media is. Someone can easily be influenced into thinking they need to look a certain way because of what they see on social media platforms.
“This show is immensely important. Self-esteem and body image issues are not something to be taken lightly, ”Fessler continued. “The message this show sends is, everyone’s body is beautiful and deserves to be acknowledged as such. Too many people suffer from an eating disorder, and there is a stigma around getting help for it. This fashion show is aiming to reduce that stigma and connect people with the help they deserve. ”
YSU student Muhammad Khan agrees about a need to recognize all body types and to give everyone a chance to feel good about themselves.
“I believe that almost everyone goes through the phase of eating disorder at one point in life, but it is up to them to not adapt it,” he said. “I, myself, at one point was disgusted in my body and started starving in order to have a perfect body. But I realized that it is not the right way and by doing this, I’m giving more damages to my body. Today I still don’t have the perfect body, but I’m working on it the right way and am very confident. “
He said bulimia is a serious disorder and he believes industry should change in order to save lives.
“Every industry should recognize different body types,” he said. “But in [the] fashion industry, it is very important and necessary for every designer from low end to high end to understand that the world is not only full of skinny people. Runways are meant for everyone and it is very important to accept any body type. Beauty comes in all shapes, size, and forms. ”
He said change needed in the fashion world is on a worldwide level.
“I am from southeast Pakistan, full of suburban communities where beauty and perfect body is also put first,” he said. “Many people in my community are also suffering from eating disorder because the rate of criticism is very high… It is like people living in 2022 with a mindset of 1900s. Not everyone is perfect, not everyone is in shape, not everyone has beautiful skin, not everyone is fashionable, but everyone is human. Different from each other in personality, which stands them out separate from others. That’s the message I try to spread in my community – but again it’s about majority versus minority. ”