Dressember: the fashion movement helping to end human trafficking
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“Can women help end human trafficking by wearing a dress?” The Dressember™ Instagram account asks. “Absolutely - they already are.”
We believe that all women should be able to wear what they want, live how they choose, and have the freedom they deserve as human beings. We challenge the notion that because a woman wears something that makes her look attractive, she is "asking for it", or because she is tricked into believing she will be given a dignified job at a fair wage, she is "naive". Femininity takes many forms, and we believe all women are beautiful, valuable, and worthy of love. All women have inherent dignity and the right to a vibrant, autonomous life. One that is free from bondage, free from fear, free from blame and exploitation. Dressember is about shining a light into the darkest places of our world, and onto our own cultural ideals about women's roles. #itsbiggerthanadress #Dressember : @heldinea
Blythe Hill, the founder of the Dressember campaign, first began learning about the extent to which women and young girls are affected by human trafficking in around 2005. She says on Dressember’s website that she “felt an urgency to do something to stop it”, but recalls “feeling powerless”.
Hill explains, “I’m not a social worker, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a psychologist. I’m someone who’s interested in fashion, trend analysis, wordplay, and blogging.” She says that her “interests felt shallow in the grand scheme of things.”
However, she soon discovered the influence and power that her interests in fashion could have.
In 2009, Hill decided to set herself a “personal style challenge” to wear a dress every day for the whole month. Despite having no plans to continue the challenge beyond the first year, Hill realised the following year that her friends wanted to join her in wearing dresses for the whole month.
It soon became clear that the movement was growing in attention and following, and Hill thought “maybe I can use Dressember to raise some money for anti-trafficking.”
Eight years on from Hill’s “personal style challenge”, Dressember now has 14.6K followers on Instagram and has raised over $1.5M in the last three years with the help of thousands of women.
Throughout this month, women across the world are sharing images of their daily dress styles on social media for Dressember. Captioning the posts with #dressember and #youcandoanythinginadress, women are uniting through social media to make a difference.
"When I was a little girl I hated dresses. I also hated flowers and the color pink. Those were the cliche things every little girl is supposed to love, but to me being a girl was a weakness. I experienced abuse and abandonment as a child. My dignity and femininity were stripped from me...the last thing I wanted was to be associated with was the weakness of being a girl. I needed to be stronger, and I needed to build strong walls. It has taken years to tear those walls down... I am proud to participate in #Dressember this year, to stand strong in a dress every day. Here's to taking back the dignity and strength of being a woman." Words and photo from the stunning @melissalingram #itsbiggerthanadress
The Dressember Foundation is making a huge difference; the movement shows there is so much more to dresses and fashion than is often recognised.
Dressember's Instagram is filled with empowering messages about women, for women, and by women. With dresses representing female solidarity, the movement is inspiring women to join together to help end human trafficking.
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