BOGOTA – A group of 17 Colombian women walked the runway in Bogota over the weekend to overcome their fears and bring awareness to topics such as gender-based violence and cancer.
“People should know that we are reborn women and are not afraid of life. We are average women who want to go through life like any other woman,” actress Ana Harlen, director of the Mujeres que Renacen (Reborn Women) project, told EFE.
The 17 women walked the runway on Saturday wearing Ela brand clothes and flaunting their female power as role models for those who have had similar experiences.
With makeup, fashion and the stage, participants said the event created by women for women allowed them to “feel free again.”
The women who participated in the event said they wanted to share their stories, going beyond personal empowerment and using the runway to reveal the ups and downs in the process that “helped them move forward.”
Patricia Espitia is a woman who experienced the cruelest form of gender violence.
Her face was disfigured in an acid attack; however, she overcame her fears and hit the catwalk as the audience cheered.
“We walked to show other women how brave we are and to show that spiritual beauty does not depend on our face or figure,” said Espitia, who sees the show as a source of hope and a challenge.
This survivor said the women in the group were “full of love” and wanted to stay alive even after going through difficult situations.
The women modeled in front of passersby, customers and guests, and some chose to wear a head covering, which is used to show a woman lives an exemplary life.
“This garment makes me feel like a strong and brave woman. It feels great to wear it with cancer patients who have suffered hair loss, because of the joy they spread,” Harlen said.
The project was created Harlen, who was a victim of gender violence. She decided to start a foundation to support women who suffered like her or dealt with cancer.
The fashion show was sponsored by different brands, including Ela and Xuss.
Harlen said it was “nice to work” with brands that support her work on behalf of “people who deserve it” and “convey that beautiful message.”
Actress Paola Morelli introduced the 17 women, who had the support of other performers, including Cuban-born actor Orian Suarez.
Walking the runway should help “the women feel included and loved by society,” Suarez said.
The event featured live music and a hair donation day to make wigs for female cancer patients.
Espitia invited other women to join the project, saying that “the catwalk was created for women who don’t feel beautiful or are experiencing unfortunate circumstances.”