Fashion show to promote healthy body image

In searching for a fundraising opportunity, Courtney Cuden, who then worked with the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee (EDCT), thought of the teeny-tiny frames traipsing down runways in New York and Milan.

With the controversy surrounding fashion’s support of stick-thin models fresh in her mind, Cuden saw a golden opportunity to make a statement and raise money at the same time. Thus was born Fashion For EveryBody.

“We wanted to raise funds with an event that was heavily tied to the mission,” says Brittany MacNealy, volunteer and events coordinator of the EDCT.

This year, EDCT will hold its sixth annual Fashion for EveryBODY fashion show celebrating the many shapes of beauty.

The Sept. 26 show will open up the runway to some truly inspiring community role models who will check their professions at the door and become fashion models for the evening at the Commodore Ballroom on the Vandberbilt University campus.

The event will celebrate the uniqueness of beauty and show some real community pride - and the GLBT community certainly has plenty of reason to come out and support the cause.

A 2007 study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health concluded that gay and bisexual men “may be at higher risk” for developing an eating disorder then a heterosexual man.

A reported 15% of gay or bisexual men have suffered from an eating disorder at some point in their lives and a recent study done by the EDCT shows that 45% of men suffering from an eating disorder identify as gay.

However, gay and bisexual women do not appear to follow the same trend. The same study by Columbia found “no differences” in eating disorders when it compared groups lesbian/bisexual women to heterosexual women.

On the contrary, Sarah Fogel, whose research on obesity in the lesbian community is under review by Women & Health, said lesbians are 1.5 to 2 times more likely of being overweight or obese that heterosexual women.

"The classic definition of “eating disorders” does not usually include plain ol’ overeating," Fogel said.

Researchers at the National Eating Disorder Information Center (NEDIC) in Canada pinpointed several risk factors that may contribute to the high rates of eating disorders in gay men including issues of vulnerability, seeking acceptance and approval, the role of appearance and the stereotypes of masculinity.

The NEDIC said gay men might be so susceptible to eating disorders, because they are constantly grasping for control.

The Fashion for EveryBody show emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy, positive body image by demonstrating that you don't have to be model thin to look good in a couture dress. The event relies on community sponsors, and showcases community nominated role models in looks donated by local boutiques.

“We like to use clothes from local shops," Cuden said. "Not anything like the Gap.”

Broken Bow artist Dean Brody and songwriter Emily West are set to co-host the event that has never failed to showcase some amazing looks, and some incredible community spirit.

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