June 27, 2019

Academy Students Define “True Beauty”

True Beauty’s 2019 Fashion Models. (Inji Kang’19/Media editor)

Seniors Samantha Kass and Alexis Leader co-chaired the 16th Annual True Beauty Fashion Show on Saturday, April 6, at the BalletMet in downtown Columbus.

Sixteen years ago, an Academy student gave a junior speech on her battle with an eating disorder. Her classmates were moved by her story and started a fundraiser for NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association). Columbus Academy students now raise money through the show’s earnings for the Center of Balanced Living, the only non-profit eating disorder clinic in Ohio, whose mission is “to specialize in evidence-based treatment, education and prevention, and research in the area of eating disorders and foster balance in the lives of all persons served.” The fundraiser’s core principle is to value and respect all body types, male or female, as exhibited by the volunteer models from Academy’s student body and faculty.

Kass and Leader teamed up with volunteer coordinator, junior Abigail Fisher to reserve space, coordinate a silent auction, contact boutiques, and organize the models. The night of the show was nothing short of remarkable–the BalletMet was illuminated with crystal chandeliers and colorful projections–and the silent auction had impressive items ranging from a house in Costa Rica for a week to tickets to Ariana Grande. The silent auction committee included juniors Abby Yakam, Emma Belford, and Lauren Bernacki, along with sophomores Sophia Sommer and Suelin Qu. All proceeds are donated to the Center for Balanced Living.

Regarding their first interest in the event, Leader says, “It has been passed down to girls at Academy to continue on the legacy of bringing awareness and support to the topic of mental health and eating disorders. Sammie and I attended our first show in 7th grade and have been involved with it ever since. We knew that one day we wanted to take on a greater role in the event when we were old enough.”

Kass said, “Not only does the event bring in funds that support the Center’s treatment and education, but the message it promotes serves other purposes as well. It not only encourages people to celebrate who they are, but it also allows everyone to hear about the impact that reaching out and offering help can make on someone’s life. The show provides an opportunity to support an amazing cause and learn about a serious topic that all too often hits close to home.”

Kass and Leader also introduced two speakers Kelly Trautner, the current CEO of the center, and Sarah Blanda, an eating disorder survivor. Blanda shared that during her fight, she had developed three heart conditions that required her to be in a hospital for a month. The center helped her recover through its psychological research and healthy meal plans for beneficial habits.

Belford, Bernacki, and Yakam will head the 2020 17th Annual True Beauty Fashion Show. Every year, this event teaches the community an important lesson: true beauty can be found within all.