Can a Dress Change the World?

By guest writer: Annie Evelsizer

It was mid-December and the bitter winds swept along the city street, empty of everything but snowdrifts in the early morning hours. She sipped a hot cup of coffee, warming her hands as she began getting ready for work. Normally on a day such as this, she would pull on her flannel lined trousers, possibly adding a layer of thermal long-underwear, as well as warm socks and sturdy winter boots. But instead, today she pulled on a dress. The same dress she had worn since the first day of the month. Her commute that morning included a long walk to the subway station which would take her to her bus stop, followed by another lengthy span of city streets to trudge before she finally arrived at work.

She knew she would be blue with cold by the time she arrived at her office door as her legs faced the frigid temperatures, covered only by a thin pair of cotton leggings beneath her flowing dress. But that was the point. To be a conversation starter by wearing a dress instead of a parka. Because she had a bigger mission: to end modern day slavery. The people she was advocating for by wearing a dress each cold day of December were more important than her personal comfort.

Wearing a dress all day, every day – in today’s fashion culture – is generally a curious enough endeavor to encourage people to ask questions. Especially when the winter winds blow. Or while in a Pilates class. Or at the after-school soccer game. Which is why every year, thousands of people around the globe engage in the fight against modern slavery by wearing a dress or tie during the 31 days of December.

In 2009, a woman by the name of Blythe Hill decided to take action against modern day slavery in the form of a movement called Dressember. Since its inception, Dressember has been empowering advocates the world over as they work to educate their communities about modern slavery. Each year, advocates use a personalized campaign page to share their dress wearing journey with their immediate community while making an immeasurable impact for those in harm’s way. With women and girls comprising a vast majority all human trafficking victims, a dress seems an identifiable symbol to engage in the fight against human trafficking (1).

Most people do not think slavery still exists, let alone in the U.S. Yet today, in 2019, over 40 million people are currently living in modern day slavery, a global industry generating about $150 billion annually (2). Slavery is a problem in every community.

Together, we can make a difference. Because every day there are millions of men, women and children in need of help. For hope. Dressember believes #YouCanDoAnythingInaDress. Learn how you can engage and become an advocate this December and be the change our world needs. All you need is a dress.

 

References:

(1) 2016 UNDOC Report

(2) Latest figures published by the UN’s International Labour Organization and the Walk Free Foundation, 2019.

 

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