Anorexia awareness event set for this weekend

As Christina Wood recovered from her battle with anorexia, she wanted to find a way to raise awareness for the eating disorder.

So this weekend Lawrence resident will host Anorexia, Bite Me, a fashion show at Wilde’s Chateau 24, at 2412 Iowa Street. The event starts at 8 p.m. Saturday with information booths about anorexia and food provided by TCBY and Juice Stop. Then at 9 p.m., a fashion show featuring some of Wood’s own designs and clothes donated by Penn House.

“It’s a serious topic, but I want it (raising awareness) to be fun at the same time,” she said.

Wood, now 30, struggled with anorexia since she was a 16-year-old, but has been in therapy for the last few years. Now that’s she’s ready to raise awareness, she said a fashion show was her first choice because of her strong interest in designing clothes. But using fashion to raise awareness for anorexia can be tricky. She said that because the fashion industry is criticized for the way it portrays women, using fashion as her medium to raise awareness could be controversial.

“It’s something I have to be careful of when I design clothes because a lot of designers design clothes for thin bodies,” Wood said.

To avoid that, Wood’s clothes are designed for a wide range of bodies sized for both men and women. For this show, she focused on semi-formal and formal styles including dresses, skirts and men’s formal clothes that her 20 models will wear. Other clothes in the show were donated by local social service agency Penn House, at 1035 Pennsylvania St. Director Kyle Roggenkamp said he’s known Wood for several years and jumped at the chance to help her raise awareness for a good cause.

“Anytime a person or organization comes to us with a cause that’s in line with serving the community, we’ll do it,” he said.

Penn House operates a clothing closet open to the public with a wide range of clothes including suites and formal wear, and work clothes. Because of the large number of donations, Roggenkamp said there is often a surplus of clothes. He decided to let Wood and her models pick out clothes for the fashion show.

Wood is optimistic that the event will have a large turnout, and if it does, she plans to do similar events in the future. She said she thinks anorexia is more common than people realizes and hopes this event inspire people to talk about it and seek help if they need to. Roggenkamp said he plans to attend the event to support his friend.

“Now that she has gotten to the point where she can give back, I’m all about supporting that,” he said. “It’s not every day someone wakes up and says, ‘I’m going to raise money for a good cause,’ so it speaks to her character.”