Dianne Frances D. Powell
TERRE HAUTE —
Cheers and applause filled the room as 13 smiling women took center stage Wednesday night in Terre Haute to shine a spotlight on the unique beauty each person possesses — inside and out.
“Being yourself is the prettiest thing you can be” was the message of “Beauty Recognized: From the Inside Out,” a fashion show held in Hulman Memorial Student Union at Indiana State University, “celebrating the unique beauty that our bodies have,” said Melissa Grinslade of ISU’s Student Counseling Center.
Hosted by the Student Counseling Center, it was one of several events this week for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which aims to bring attention to the needs of people with eating disorders and their families.
Wearing jeans, rubber shoes and a Superman T-shirt, Kaci Zimmerman was one of the women who confidently walked down the runway during the fashion show. The participants, nominated by their peers, chose their own outfits to reflect their unique personalities.
“This basically defines me,” Zimmerman said of her choice of outfit.
She sees herself as “Superman” because “I like to go out and help everybody.”
Zimmerman said she has been recovering from an eating disorder in the last few years.
“I know what it’s like to struggle with it. I know what it’s like to hate yourself and not feel beautiful,” she said.
So helping out with the event was “a big deal for me,” and one of her goals in life is to tell “everybody that they’re beautiful no matter what,” the nursing major said.
“Walking [on stage] was a way to say, ‘I’m worth it. I’m beautiful.’ ”
Another participant, Nyohmi Buzo, chose an outfit that represents her everyday style.
“This is what I would normally wear and I feel comfortable in it,” Buzo said of the polka dot jeans, black shoes, black shirt and gray sweater she wore at the show.
She waved and smiled on stage as the emcee, Patsy Kelly of WTHI-TV, told the audience of Buzo’s nomination.
“Nyohmi has her very own unique personality and sense of style. She wasn’t born to fit in, she was born to stand out as her very own extraordinary self,” Kelly told the audience.
Buzo participated because she thought it was a good way to relieve her anxiety with social events and “just to show people that people come in all shapes and sizes.”
“If you have a good sense of inner beauty, no one can bring you down,” Buzo, a psychology major, said.
Another student, Kristen Heshelman, participated in the show to set a good example to a young cousin who has been bullied.
“If I can get up in front of people, she can [too],” Heshelman, a sophomore majoring in social work, said.
“It’s not about size. It’s about how pretty you feel on the inside and how you see yourself.”
She was nervous at first but later enjoyed it, she said.
“I’ve never done this before in my life,” she added.
While those who participated in the event were all women, the message was also geared toward men.
“Eating disorders, body image issues also affect males,” Grinslade said.
It does not discriminate, she said, so it’s important to raise awareness among everyone.
It is also important to move away from the stereotypical “thin-ideal” often seen in media, Grinslade said. In reality, only 2 percent of the population can achieve that “thin-ideal,” she said.
“Because of our genes, our bodies are not meant to be the same. We really need to be comfortable with our own genes.”
Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.