By Rachel Gobep
Students and faculty in the Merchandising: fashion and interior program at Youngstown State University participated in the National Eating Disorders Association Walk in Cleveland in honor and support of former student, Danielle Peters, who passed away due to complications of bulimia in 2012.
Fashion students also put on the EveryBODY Fashion show in honor of Peters every spring in celebration of all body types. Jennifer Frank, merchandising: fashion and interiors instructor, was at the forefront of the fashion show last spring, which was put on by the students in her production and promotion class.
Frank said the group tries to share positive stories about body image to show that beauty does not come from the size of a person’s jeans, but what is in their heart.
“We hope to bring awareness and to encourage people of all different shapes and sizes to walk in the fashion show and show their unique beauty,” Lauren Aey, a third year merchandising: fashion and interiors major, said.
Aey said she participated in this year’s walk because eating disorders are harmful diseases that “not many often think about or are familiar with.” She also wanted to raise awareness by walking.
She personally walked in honor and support of a high school friend who has dealt with an eating disorder.
“Many men and women battle every day in silence with their eating disorder. By engaging in the walk, I knew I could make a difference by being there in support of the brave men and women,” Aey said.
She said she believes participation in the walk impacts the merchandising program greatly.
“By walking we encourage everyone to feel comfortable and happy in their own skin,” Aey said.
“As fashion merchandising students, it’s also important to take what we learned from the walk and to emplace our knowledge on others to create a difference and to let others know that if they are in need of help that many people are willing to lend a helping hand.”
She said she will never forget the faces behind the stories told at the walk.
“The stories I will never forget; how they took their struggles overcame them, and encouraged others with their stories,” Aey said. “I hope to walk in another NEDA Walk, and I hope that others will consider walking too.”
Alyssa Hutch, a senior merchandising: fashion and interiors major, said it is important for students in her program to participate in the walk because it is a major issue impacting the fashion industry.
“It deserves awareness so that we can address the disease and allow individuals who may struggling to feel more comfortable in asking for help,” Hutch said. “I also believe that it recognizes that every body type deserves to be valued.”
She said fashion should be a way for people “to gain the confidence they may need to overcome something such as an eating disorder.”
Frank emphasized size does not define a person, and each person is enough.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder call the National Eating Disorders Hotline at 1-800-931-2237. For 24/7 crisis support text “NEDA” to 741741.