True Color Fashion Show to benefit local LGBTQ organizations, July 14

Tue. July 6, 2021 8:21 AM by Ross Forman

ally frank the head of the be you tiful initiative

photo credit // provided

'Our group of models is super diverse, which is something I'm really thankful for,' says organizer Ally Frank

Models ranging in age from 11 to 73, and truly encompassing every color of the rainbow and beyond, are set to strut in the first-ever True Colors Fashion Show – a community fashion show on Wednesday, July 14 starting at 6:30 p.m., at the Buffalo Grove Community Arts Center.

The event is sponsored by The Be You Tiful Initiative, BG Pride and Kristal Larson, the Avon Township clerk – and it will feature volunteer models, both LGBTQ and allies, performances from local dance companies, gymnasts, choirs, and more

Drag star Coco Sho-Nell will be the event's emcee.

“From the beginning of my journey running a nonprofit organization, I always wanted to host an event, but COVID ruined that plan,” said Ally Frank, 17, who will be a senior this fall at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire – and the head of The Be You Tiful Initiative.

“Now that it's safe to have indoor community gatherings, I decided to think of an idea that represents the purpose of Be You Tiful. Since my organization is based around beauty and fashion, I thought a fashion show would be an amazing idea – it's something fun and entertaining, but also relates to the mission of The Be You Tiful Initiative.”

The show will include performances from multiple local performing arts groups, such as Studio 83 Dance Company and Rhythmix Rhythmic Gymnastics, and more than 25 models from the community of all ages and identities.

“Our group of models is super diverse, which is something I'm really thankful for,” Frank said. “Within this group (of models), we've got transgender and nonbinary individuals, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual and asexual people, and allies who are cisgender and straight who are looking to support the local LGBTQ community.”

Frank, who lives in Buffalo Grove, came out as bisexual heading into her sophomore year of high school – at age 15. She now identifies as lesbian.

“When I came out, it was first only to three of my closest friends and my parents,” she said. “I am so lucky to have been born into such an accepting family, and they have been and continue to be nothing but supportive of everything I do and everything I am. When I came-out to my friends, they also were super accepting and really excited for me, as I was looking forward to finally being comfortable as my true self publicly. When I came out to my friends, my best friend asked if we could do a rainbow pride photoshoot, even if I didn't choose to post the photos. I agreed and we did an amazing rainbow photoshoot and posting these pictures was the way I came out publicly, and admittedly to most of my family. Like I said, I am extremely grateful and lucky that I was born into such an amazing family, and everyone in my extended family was just as supportive and accepting.”

Frank said the fashion show spawns from her belief that clothes “are some of the best ways to show your 'true colors,'” she said.  “Some people choose to adhere to a style aesthetic to express themselves, and others like to wear clothes all over the board. I am the latter in this case. I prefer to wear clothes that make me feel comfortable and confident, regardless of the aesthetic they relate to. Some clothes that I personally feel most confident in are rompers, crop tops and jean shorts, however, in this show I am super excited to be able to take it up a notch and wear more formal clothes because I love (any) excuse to dress up.

“When I had the idea for this event, I said that I wanted to wear a ballgown (because) 'Who's going to tell the host that she's overdressed for her own event!'

“I understand that not everyone likes dressing fancy, and that's where a lot of the diversity comes from for this event. We've got models wearing ball gowns or suits, and others who choose to walk in a t-shirt and ripped jeans.”

Funds raised at the fashion show will benefit three local LGBTQ organizations: The Be You Tiful Initiative, the Center on Halsted, and the Brave Space Alliance.

The Be You Tiful Initiative, Frank said, is a nonprofit organization that provides free beauty and styling services aimed at transgender and nonbinary people. “We can help them learn to do their makeup, shop for and find clothes that suit their style and make them feel confident, learn how to style and care for their hair, and much more,” she said.

The Be You Tiful Initiative launched last June “after seeing a post on Facebook from a transgender woman who felt insecure about herself because she didn't know how to do her makeup,” Frank said.  “This really opened my eyes to the struggles some transgender and nonbinary people face, since they may not have resources to help them learn the things cisgender women have at our disposal. I wanted this to be a safe space for anyone, of any identity, to learn how to use beauty and fashion to express themselves and explore what makes them feel confident.”

Tickets for the fashion show are available for preorder now: $10 for children age 17 and under, and $15 for adults 18 and older. To preorder tickets, please send a Venmo with the amount and types (ages) of tickets as the description to @TheBeYouTiful-Initiative. A limited amount of first come, first serve tickets will be available at the door of the event for the same price.

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