Fashion Explosion Event at IWU empowers community members

Fashion+Explosion+Event+at+IWU+empowers+community+members

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Anna Lowenthal, Editor-in-Chief

 

Over 200 members of the Illinois Wesleyan University and Bloomington-Normal community attended the third annual “Celebrating the Beauty Within” Fashion Explosion hosted in the IWU Memorial Center on Sunday, March 29 at 4:00 p.m.

The mission for the event, as stated in the program, was to “foster the empowerment of men, women and children, to bring awareness to the harsh reality of sexual assault and to donate funding to organizations providing services to victims of sexual assault.”

All proceeds from the event were donated to YWCA Stepping Stones sexual assault program, which provides free 24-hour service for sexual assault victims and their families across the country, as well as in McLean County.

“Celebrating the Beauty Within” offered a variety of entertainment – including a children’s fashion showcase as well as casual, business, traditional and formal showcases, dance and musical performances – featuring an original song from artist Kyanna and a vocal performance from Sofia Reed, the director of Fashion Explosion and owner of Sofia’s House of Style.

“We could not have done this without the help of our sponsors, those who have donated and everyone who has helped us along the way,” Reed said.

Clothing was donated from Dress Barn, Gap, Bergners, JC Penneys, Franchesca and MC Sports. Paul Mitchell Salons provided hair styling and makeup for the models.

“We hope that everyone embraces who they are and knows how beautiful they are,” said Jessica Sweich, an MC for the event.

Two women of the Bloomington-Normal community shared their stories of survival, offering poetry and words of encouragement to the audience.

Rolanda Johnson performed her original poem, titled “Dread.”

“The very thing I dread has come upon me. But I smile – I see I have the victory,” she said.

“We all deserve happiness, no matter where we are or what others say about us,” said Lyn Westhoff.

“We don’t have to let it consume us,” Westhoff added. “Now I’m married to a man that loves me, I have a family and I own my own business.”

While the theme of the event was centered on the awareness of sexual assault, the atmosphere was nothing near somber.

“We don’t want to be known as victims,” said Reed, “we want to be known as survivors.”

For more information, call YWCA’s 24-hour hotline at (309) 827-4005 for free, confidential service and advocacy for sexual assault survivors.