Asha Florida

Budelynn Noel, 22, strikes a pose at Asha Florida’s Indo Western Fashion Show Friday night at the Reitz Union Rion Ballroom.

Honey Tumbaga was one of two models who strutted down a runway in the Reitz Union holding the train of a pink dress with a 3D flamingo saree design. 

Although Tumbaga wasn’t front and center, she said the experience gave her confidence as friends cheered her on. 

The Filipino-American 21-year-old UF psychology senior had her modeling debut at an Indo-Western fashion show hosted by UF’s chapter of Asha Florida, an organization that supports children’s education in India. The show featured 44 models of different cultures and clothing sizes. 

Tumbaga said she joined because she believed in Asha’s cause.

“Modeling was actually really hard, but it was a great experience,” she said. 

Appajosula Yashodhara “Yashu” Rao, a 27-year-old UF materials science and engineering doctoral candidate and UF’s Asha president, said she organized the show to combine her interest in the arts with raising awareness for a cause she cares about. 

“The event was not just about fashion, the Gator community or a plus-sized model that got bullied,” she said. “It was about the children in India and this Asha community.”

The group encouraged people to donate on its website, but a donation was not required to get in, Rao said.

Although Rao doesn’t expect the show to become a regular event, she said she wants to provide more avenues for people to get involved and raise awareness.  

“Asha has so much more planned,” she said. “This was just my first baby step.” 

Rao accepted the models who auditioned in September, and she designed their outfits. She said it wasn’t in her nature as a plus-sized Indian woman to reject models.

Anthony Collins, a 20-year-old UF psychology junior, said his favorite outfit was Aecha Kimball’s — she wore a baby pink dress with a 3D flamingo saree design, which was the dress Tumbaga helped hold the  train of. 

Other outfits included a ruffled saree with gold chains and a red rhinestone headpiece and tangerine orange flare pants with a matching tube top. 

“One thing I found interesting about the outfits was that some were more traditional, some were more modern and others were a blend of the two,” Collins said.