Danielle Peters was a fashion merchandising student at Youngstown State University. At the age of 21, in the summer of 2012, she passed away due to bulimia. In response, YSU fashion students decided to honor her memory and address the underlying issue of eating disorders by organizing the EveryBODY Fashion Show.
Peters’ parents attended the 2012 Fashion Show held the fall after her passing. They said they were so touched by the show’s message of body acceptance and mission to increase awareness about eating disorders that they decided to start the Danielle L. Peters Endowment to Promote Awareness of Eating Disorders in memory of their daughter.
This semester’s show took place in Kilcawley Center’s Chestnut Room on Tuesday and was sponsored by the endowment.
Jacquii Sepesy, a YSU fashion student and freelance model who posed in the show, said that the idea of beauty is up to interpretation.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but your health is in your hands,” Sepesy said.
The Fashion Show opened up with a brief presentation on the types and seriousness of the eating disorders anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder in addition to other eating and feeding disorders.
Priscilla Gitmu, coordinator of YSU’s fashion merchandising program and an associate professor, stressed the importance of seeking help if you suspect you may be suffering from an eating disorder.
“Getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do — for yourself and for those who care for you,” Gitmu said.
The evening consisted of three ballet dance performances by Sepesy, Kaitlyn Fabian and Shannon Joy. The themes of the catwalks were Emerging Spring, Sunny Summer, Active Wear, Special Occasion, Bridal and the Finale. There was also an active intermission were the DJ requested the audience members to take a selfie and tweet it to the show’s Twitter page, YSU EveryBODY FS.
The merchandise came from retailers and designers, some local and others that originated in the area and made it big elsewhere. The list includes: Angel Rivera Couture, Tre Sorelle Boutique, The Encore Shop, Jesus Speak, E.J. Hannah, Traci Lynn Fashion Jewelry, Evaline’s Bridal, Nanette Lepore, Dillard’s, Cece Couture, Jacqueline’s Bridal and Tome James. Hair and makeup was done by Ulta Beauty.
Students started to prepare for the fashion show in January at the beginning of the semester. Each one was in charge of a particular role.
Cassie Campana, a junior and fashion merchandising major, said the show really inspired her to love the body that she is in and to not be afraid of wearing what she wants. She said the goal of the show was to display awareness about eating disorders and promote that we should all love our bodies, no matter what size they are.
“I think people should definitely get the word out about eating disorders because they aren’t something you should take lightly,” Campana said. “People could have a fundraiser or even host an event, like tonight, to raise awareness for eating disorders.”
At first, Campana was not going to model. She was originally in charge of handling the merchandise, but after one of her classmates asked her to model one of the bridesmaids’ dresses, Campana couldn’t say no.
“The show came out great! I was very pleased with how everything ran smoothly,” she said. “I am so happy that I got to be apart of this show.”
Jerrilyn Guy, a psychology major, was in charge of updating the Twitter page during the show. Guy said she believes that bringing members of the community together to educate them on this topic is very wise.
“I think it says a lot about YSU, and it’s very sincere coming from the fashion merchandising department,” she said. “I feel as if eating disorders is something that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves because eating disorders are more common than people think and usually overlooked.”
Additional reporting by Brittany Landsberger