SHENANGO VALLEY MALL Fashion Bug fashion show: 'We don't turn anyone down'

Each model shows off one outfit from the casual, career or sportswear categories.
HERMITAGE, Pa.-- Nancy Bartel says she isn't the typical model one might see strolling down a fashion show runway.
"I'm not the thin model," said the 55-year-old wedding consultant and grandmother from Wilmington Township. "The real world is over size 18."
That's one of the reasons she's been willing to participate in the semiannual Fashion Bug fashion shows.
"I've done it a dozen, maybe 15 times. I just love getting up there. When you see the people smile, you're hooked," she said.
Fashion Bug says it offers a fashion show twice a year, in spring and fall. Every store in the 1,200-outlet chain will have it's own fall show at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Other stores and shopping malls in the area also put on fashion shows, some benefiting charities. Dillard's, Kaufmann's, JC Penney and others regularly show fashions.
What sets Fashion Bug apart is that all area stores will be participating at precisely the same time.
Bartel is one of about 70 women who will model juniors, misses and full-figure outfits at the store in the Shenango Valley Mall, said Debbie Bewley, store manager.
Something for everyone
Models come in all sizes and ages, she said.
"It's for everybody," said Gloria Nagy, the assistant manager of the Shenango Valley Mall store and coordinator of that store's event. "We don't turn anyone down who wants to participate."
With so many models, individuals get to show off just one outfit from the casual, career or sportswear categories, complete with accessories and shoes from the store, Nagy said. They aren't paid, but they are offered a discount.
Lynnette Mittal's daughters, Jessica, 12, and Cassandra, 10, are among the youngest participants.
They've also modeled for a bridal show for The Winner and have done the Fashion Bug show for several years, the South Pymatuning Township woman said.
"I think it helps motivate young girls, to bring out their personalities," she said, adding that the store also is giving something back to the community by inviting area residents to participate.
"It's fun and not something a lot of kids get to do," Cassandra said.
Jessica said she likes the show because it shows people what outfits look like on real people "instead of on the hanger."
Enthusiastic participant
Jessica May, 20, of Sharon, has done six or seven of the shows and had done some earlier modeling for organizations in which her mother was involved.
"I'm a plus-sized model," the Slippery Rock University junior said, adding that she likes the Fashion Bug show because of its diversity. It features models of all sizes and cultures, she said.
Jessica said she will keep coming back to do the show as long as she is able. She's had requests from other Fashion Bug stores to do their shows but said she's staying with the Shenango Valley Mall event.
Crystal Thompson, 17, a junior at West Middlesex High School, said she got involved in the show about a year ago.
"One of my friends told me about it, and I went and signed up," she said, adding.
She said she likes being on stage, showing off the new clothes and "just having fun."
Thompson said she's trying to persuade some more of her friends to participate this year, but they've been a bit shy.
As for her, she said she has "no intentions to quit at all."

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