Guest Post By Martine Lee
LONDON, ONTARIO — It was a night to remember. It was right before COVID-19 made us all isolate in our homes, before the Premier Doug Ford told us that it was illegal to gather in groups of 50 or more. We had the chance to celebrate body positivity and raise funds for a very important charity, Anova London. I am glad our efforts made a difference and it was good that our event happened, a nice gathering of strong women and our supporters, before the virus became the focus.
On Thursday, March 12, at 3 pm, all models and helpers gathered together for makeup and hair prep. This event was months in the making. It was the big day. Photographer Oscar LaVerde was doing behind the scenes photos. Photographer Stacey was doing official modelling photos. Rakhee Chopra, our leader, organizer, and fashion designer looked beautiful and gorgeous, wearing a plus-size dress that she designed for herself. We came together to showcase her fashion designs and support Anova London.
I, Martine Lee, was the models’ organizer. I was busy rushing around, helping models, getting everyone organized! The stress level was high for me, doing a million things at once, but it was all for a good cause! In addition to being the models’ organizer, I was also the guest speaker. It was my first time talking in public about the rape and sexual assault that happened to me in 2018. But my main goal was to raise awareness and empower people who have been through rough times.
Thankfully, friends and my boyfriend came to give me support. The love and support from the fellow models was awesome as well. Everyone had fun, smiles and laughter all around! At around 7:30 pm, the models were all ready for the runway, and the audience clapped along to the music and outfits!
There were two outfit runs, and the 14 models, in all shapes, cultures and sizes, came on the stage, two by two, to display some casual dresses, skirts, and beautiful tops. The MCs, Chantelle and Jenna, did a great job introducing all the outfits and talking about the positive traits of each individual model.
The models were mostly not professional models by trade but were everyday moms, everyday heroes, community influencers, or entrepreneurs. Some of them were nervous. Some of them were Instagram models doing the runway for the first time. Some of them were called in last-minute to fill in for absent people. But all of them were beautiful, gorgeous, talented, and strong.
I feel blessed to have been part of this amazing event. I delivered my speech with emotion. I had not slept much the previous night, so I was shaking. But everyone felt it was a moving speech, and I made sure to remind everyone that their contribution to the show, whether they were an attendee or a volunteer, was very valuable and impactful. We raised a lot of money for Anova London that night, and many abused families will be benefiting from our efforts.
Anova London actually helped me out during one of my court case meetings, so although I never stayed at their women’s shelter, I did benefit from their services. They provide shelter, counselling, and support for abused women and their families.
There were also a lot of vendor tables for attendees to browse, so this event was supporting a lot of entrepreneurs as well. The venue was at Goodwill Industries Building on the third floor, so there were a beautiful stage and a very bright lit spacious place for the audience to enjoy.
A night to remember. A night to celebrate. A night to smile at my past trauma and say that I’ve overcome. A night to be thankful for.
I am sure you will see from the photos that this event was a great success. Rakhee Chopra, our event organizer and fashion designer, puts on this event usually twice a year, once in spring, and once in the fall. So don’t miss out next time!
Great big thanks to Oscar LaVerde Photography for inviting me to write this blog post! I hope everyone is staying safe and staying positive at home!