It’s Dressember! If you’ve noticed a flood of Instagram pics of myself or others rocking cute dresses lately, you might be wondering why.
If you know me personally, it might be a bit of a surprise that I’ve worn a dress for 5 days in a row already. It’s a dramatic change from my usual outfit of jeans, an Icebreaker tank top and a cozy Lululemon long sleeve.
With five kids and several businesses, getting myself and everyone out of the house on time is a true feat. I don’t have time in the mornings to match colours, accessories and shoes, so I make sure my go-to outfit is a no-brainer: comfy, practical, and easy.
Here’s what’s not easy:
Getting up earlier and allocating the time and patience to pull together a dress outfit for 31 days straight. Though it’s fun to dress up sometimes, to be honest I find wearing dresses inconvenient.
But my inconvenience is so unbelievably trivial compared to what the 35 million people trapped in modern-day slavery around the world are forced to endure every minute, every day of their lives.
So let me tell you about Dressember and how wearing a dress every day this month can change the world.
Dressember is annual campaign that uses fashion to oppose the worldwide trafficking and exploitation of women and girls.
As women take on the creative challenge of wearing a dress for the 31 days of December, they’re raising money to support the International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights organization that works to rescue victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression.
Since 2013, Dressember has raised $1.5M and inspired and empowered a global community of like-minded women fighting one of the greatest injustices of our time: slavery.
This year, I’m using my voice to support the millions of women and girls unable to use theirs.
Here’s how it’s gone so far:
My dress supply was low, so before December hit I took a trip to thrift store and for $40 I walked out with seven dresses. SEVEN dresses for forty bucks!! (It’s a win-win too, my money went to the thrift store charity, and the clothes are being used to raise more $$.)
With just seven dresses, the challenge is going to be to find creative ways to accessorize each outfit and post my progress each day to raise awareness.
The other challenge is to have powerful conversations with friends and strangers who comment on my outfits.
Many people are unaware that slavery is at its worst today than ever before in history. From forced labour of the garment industry to the sex tourism of undeveloped nations, an estimated 20-35 million people are trapped in slavery. 50% of those are children and 70% are women and girls.
When we think of human trafficking and slavery, we often associate it with developing nations: the issue is far away, and there’s not much we can do from here.
But the frightening reality is that it’s happening right under our noses – including here in Thunder Bay. Young, vulnerable indigenous girls and women in particular are preyed on and lured into dangerous situations and exploited, trafficked, sold or held against their will as sex slaves.
One such story comes from Bridget Perrier, who while in foster care in Thunder Bay was lured into prostitution at 12 years old and trapped for a decade by constant threats and fear. At just 12 years old! Bridget’s story of having her freedom violently ripped away is just one of many.
The heart of Dressember is freedom: that every woman has the right to live a vibrant and autonomous life. And that’s why I’m committing to wearing a dress every day this month and telling everyone about my Dressember campaign.
December 3, 2016
“It’s only the 3rd day, and I am changed. Even after this short time, I had so many wonderful and rich conversations about this challenge. Today I am choosing a comfortable dress that I can move around in for my busy Saturday. Added a splash of colour with one of my favorite tank tops. I still feel like me, but happy.”
December 4, 2016:
“Today is Sunday. I’m headed to church in an outfit that no one there has ever seen the likes of on me. I had to walk out the door before I changed my mind – and my outfit. I kept walking because this minor inconvenience and not being comfortable with my “norm” pales in comparison to what the victims of human trafficking endure every moment of every day.”
Help me end modern slavery by donating to my Dressember campaign (whatever you can give – every dollar counts). Learn more about Dressember and watch founder Blythe Hill’s TEDTalk:
Hold me accountable and help end slavery by tracking my progress on Instagram, donating to my Dressember campaign or starting meaningful conversations with friends and strangers.