It's More Than A Dress
Posted on April 04 2019
It's More Than A Dress
When is a dress more than just a piece of clothing? When it becomes the symbol of a movement. When it inspires conversations. When it motivates and encourages and brings hope. When it empowers. Dressember's slogan is "You can do anything in a dress" and I couldn't agree more. Never heard of Dressember? Let me give you a little background.
Dressember is a movement started to bring awareness and raise funds to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking. Many people believe slavery is a thing of history books and human trafficking happens in countries far, far away. The truth is human trafficking happens to people of all ages, sexes, races, nationalities, and it happens here in my cozy-safe community. And chances are it happens in yours, too. Advocates pledge to wear a dress or tie for every day in December - and sometimes into January, National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month - and fundraise money that is used to educate, identify and rescue victims, and provide aftercare for survivors. Since 2013, thousands of advocates have committed to wearing dresses and ties and the result has been over 5 million dollars raised and donated to strategic partners doing the hard work.
Dressember is also a proponent of ethical fashion. Makes sense, seeing that slave labor is still used the world over to manufacture cheap clothing. There's a reason why fast fashion is so inexpensive - the people who are employed making $5 t-shirts are forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions for much less than a living wage. Dressember is working to spread the word, one advocate, one blog post, one donation at a time.
Wearing a dress for 31 consecutive days may not sound like much of a challenge. Except when you are challenged to wear a dress for 31 days during winter in Wisconsin. And you are a mother to an active toddler. But I accepted the challenge gladly and with enthusiasm because I’d been watching other women do it for a few years. And they were having fun doing it - somehow these women and men were taking a heavy, serious topic and bringing hope by way of creative problem solving. These were people I wanted to join. This was a movement I wanted to take part in.
For all the watching I did from the sidelines before participating, to the team organizing and outfit planning, I was not prepared for what happened once I started doing the work. Participating in Dressember changed me. Here's how:
1. Dressember taught me gratitude.
I have been privileged to grow up and live in a safe community. I am educated. I have family nearby who I've been able to lean on in times of stress. I've never been forced out onto the streets - literally or figuratively. While it often feels like my freedoms as a woman are at stake in this country, I found profound amounts of gratitude for my ability to move freely, make choices for myself and my child, and to live my life as an independent woman - which is not a privilege women around the world necessarily enjoy. Gratitude often comes from unexpected places, and I'm thankful for the reminder. #HappyThankYouMorePlease
2. Dressember made me feel connected.
To other people in my circle. And to the world at large. I am an introvert. Being the center of attention is not necessarily my thing. So along with forcing me out of my comfort bubble, I was pleasantly surprised to find advocating for Dressember to be an opportunity to connect with new people and to strike up uncomfortable conversations. People showed up in unexpected ways - people I hadn't spoken to in years donated to the campaign. Family members told me how much they were learning from my social media posts. PEOPLE ASKED QUESTIONS. I did not anticipate that anyone would take notice or that little ol' me could make any impact. This experience proved me wrong. I will never again believe that one person, one voice can't make an impact. You just never know who might be listening.
3. Dressember educated me.
I like to think I'm a fairly well-educated lady. But we don't know what we don't know. Before Dressember, I was one of those people who thought human trafficking happened in some vague over there. Well, I was wrong. Human trafficking and modern slavery - in the form of sex trafficking, debt bondage, child marriage - effects human beings in almost every country in the world. Dressember makes it so easy to learn and advocate with an amazing amount of resources, including success stories posted on the Dressember Blog.
I highly recommend popping over to the Dressember site to read more about the organization and their partners, as education is the key in spotting and putting an end to human trafficking in your local community. I'll be over here brainstorming ways we can collaborate with Dressember as a company as well as coming up with ways I can improve upon my personal fundraising goal for the 2019/2020 campaign. We'll be putting together a team again this year, so reach out if you're at all interested in joining us this December!
Style Manager, Fair Indigo