All shapes and sizes take part in the ‘Heels to Heal’ fashion show
Once upon a time, there was a teenage girl with low self-esteem. She lived in a body that she was unhappy with because it did not fit the popular standards of thinness and beauty. Having to deal with this every day, she finally decided to take matters in her own hands. As anyone trying to lose weight, she changed her diet and cut her portion sizes. But after a few weeks of daily salads, she surrendered and experienced her first binge. However, bingeing was the least of her problems because what would follow was way worse. Purging became an everyday reality.
As terrifying as it seems, this is not a movie script, but the real life story of Annie Lalande. A second year medical student at McGill University, Lalande battled eating disorders for almost five years.Now fully recovered, she is passionate about reaching out to others who have been affected, directly or indirectly, by anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
“Eating disorders are a very common problem,” says Lalande. “We all know someone. Since I started talking about it, I had friends of mine coming up to me who either had eating disorders or had the idea of going there. It’s such a taboo. People don’t talk about it. And they should.”
To raise awareness, Lalande, together with the Medical Student Society (MSS) and Med-P/Dent-P Student Association (MDSA) are organizing a fashion show entitled “Heels to Heal”.
For the third year in a row, this non-profit event is also dedicated to collecting funds for Anorexia and Bulimia Quebec (ANEB), an organization offering immediate, free professional help for anyone impacted by eating disorders.
Last year, the fashion show attracted over 300 people and was able to raise $3,000. This year, they are aiming higher.
“The event will be much bigger compared to the one held in 2013,” says Marie-Noël Nguyen, one of the organizers of “Heels to Heal. “We have more designers, more models, more speakers and more entertainment.”
The show will begin with a cocktail reception where guests will be able to socialize and network with other attendees while also being entertained by a charismatic magician. Dr. Danielle Taddeo, a pediatrician at adolescent medical clinic of the CHU Sainte-Justine, will then give a word of welcome and explanation regarding the event, which will then be followed by the fashion show.
“The designers participating in the project are all students from College Lasalle and Marie-Victorin,” says Nguyen. “All the clothing they will be showing has been designed on a voluntary basis to help the cause. And we are helping them back by supporting their work, which you will be able to purchase at the end of the show.”
“Heels to Heal” is not your usual fashion show with unrealistically thin models clomping along in expensive dresses. On the contrary, each model is different and unique in their own way.
“When we were choosing the models, we were looking for all types of body shapes and heights,” says Nguyen. “Tall girls, short girls, voluptuous girls, and male models too. We want to promote all kinds of beauty. It’s all about diversity and accepting each other.”
A fashion show like “Heels to Heal” is also a show of hope, organized to prove that there is help out there available and you should not be afraid to seek it out.
“The help I got was really great,” says Lalande. “It really changed the way I perceive myself and really helped me grow. And even though it was a really terrible time in my life, I don’t think I’d ever take it back. It shaped me, and made me a better and stronger person. And I can now talk about it.”
Heels to Heal takes place on March 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Espace Reunion, 6610 Hutchinson Street, Outremont. Tickets are $15 in advance (contact Marie-Noël Nguyen 514-886-6247) or $20 at the door. All money raised will be donated to Anorexia and Bulimia Quebec.