Sunday, June 13, 2010

USA:4th Annual Shortstack Charity Fashion Show


For many young ladies, the allure of being a model comes with the idea they will have a glamorous life of traveling the world, wearing designer clothing, meeting thousands of people and having your face plastered on billboards and magazines – sounds exciting, right? Most of the world has probably thought about this career choice at least once in their life, but for many, like 19 year old Shortstack Program Director Olivia Mignone, it becomes a passion. Unfortunately, Olivia learned years ago that there was a gritty truth behind this glamorous life and that her 5’ 1” limitation was going to exclude her from this industry. Thankfully, for many young girls who have followed in her footsteps, Olivia would not accept this hurdle and set out to change the standards.

“In order to model, there are strict rules and requirements to which everyone must oblige,” states Ms. Mignone. According to Ford Models – one of the top modeling agencies in the world – as a 14 to 15 year old female, you must be 5’7” to 6’0” tall; a 16 to 22 year old female must be 5’8” to 6’0” tall and a 15 to 35 year old male must 5’11” to 6’3” tall. Plus, for all of these ages and heights, you are contracted to maintaining a certain weight at all times. In fact, anything above a dress of 4 can be considered plus size to some. “It is no secret that the industry has been under fire in recent years for being unrealistic and unfair in sending this message,” explains Hal S. Eisenberg, Executive Director of Windows of Opportunity, an innovative youth empowerment agency that oversees and supports Olivia’s program. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention the average height and weight for a woman in the United States is about 5’3” and 165 pounds. “If this is the case,” explains Eisenberg, “what kind of image is the world-wide modeling industry sending to our society? Something needs to shift.”

To overcome the industry’s bias, send a message to the fashion world, and to empower young woman to love themselves for who they are, Olivia created Shortstack 4 years ago at the age of 15. Shortstack is a teen founded and driven modeling fashion program that provides young woman who do not meet the “normal” industry standards an opportunity to become involved in charitable fashion events, professional photo shoots, fashion design, and photography. Now, at the age of 19, Olivia is drawing attention to her message as she is about to step out on the runway at The Midtown Loft & Terrace on 5th Avenue in the heart of Manhattan, during the 4th Annual Shortstack Charity Fashion Show.

Olivia, and the 20 girls in her program that respectfully refer to each other as a sisterhood, are part of more than just a modeling and fashion program, but a place where they have come to learn about who they are, what they are about, and how to send a message in a positive, constructive way. “The fashion industry must change its standards”, states Tanya Rios, Assistant Program Director and life long friend of Olivia. “I have watched Olivia consistently promote healthy habits, better body image and create self-esteem and confidence in all of us.” Through workshops, rehearsals, charity events, photo shoots and fashion shows, the Shortstack models become the types of models our society should look up to. However, as amazing as a story this has been, Olivia feels this is not enough. “I challenge designers to take this same initiative; to allow all shapes and sizes walk their runways. It may not only save a lot of lives, but a lot of dreams, as well.” Ms. Mignone continues, “Come to our fashion show on June 18th at The Midtown Loft. Come see what the buzz is about. We challenge you to put myself and any of our Shortstack models in your show. You will be impressed by what you see. Help us send a message of inclusion for all. Which of you will be the first to stand tall with us?”

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