The entire month of December 2016, as a passionate advocate for freedom and human rights, I participated in Dressember. The Dressember Foundation works to raise awareness of the plight of the 27 million people that are currently in slavery, and helps raise money to fund modern day abolition organizations. Participants create a fundraising page, and then commit to wearing a dress and spreading the message of freedom every day for the month of December.
In 2016, the Dressember campaign raised more than $1.2 MILLION, enough to fund over 200 rescue operations!
As thirty-one days of dresses rolled by, I learned lessons with each one. Here are a few things learned as I partnered in this fight for abolition.
1. December is COLD.
I am a person who gets cold extremely easily. I’m thankful that this was a very warm December, but it was still very hard for me to not throw on sweatpants and a hoodie to go to class some days. It was uncomfortable, but worth it.
2. Even if you enjoy dressing up regularly, being obliged to do it is hard.
I thought Dressember would be easy because I typically wear dresses or skirts several days out of the week anyway. However, I realized that wearing them on my own terms and wearing them because I’m obliged to are completely different things. It was HARD to put on a dress everyday, especially when I was sick for about a week.
It came down to a matter of social media publicity and commitment. Enough people knew that I was doing this that I got questions even during the times I was allowed to be out of a dress (for working out, sleep, or workplaces where you don’t get to choose what you wear) that I knew if I skipped wearing a dress any day, I would be called out on it. That type of pressure was extremely helpful. Also, there was my personal commitment; 27 million people are enslaved on our planet today. If wearing a dress for a cold month could help them, how terrible would I be if I gave up on doing it?
3. First world problems consume us.
Finally, I learned how ridiculous the struggles in my life truly are. The first week I was home on Christmas break, I was extremely irritated with my mechanic for taking days longer than they promised to get an estimate to me for a repair my car needed ASAP. I was TICKED.
A couple days into repeatedly calling them without much luck and feeling my irritation grow and grow, I realized something: I was wearing a dress. I was wearing a dress because in every part of the world, people weren’t free. They weren’t free to own a car, be autonomous in any way, and even choose what happened to their own bodies.
Not only was I not representing Christ well in my anger, but I was minimizing their plight by enlarging my own issues to be ‘the end of the world’.
It wasn’t the cold or the monotony that got to me the most-it was my own selfishness, my own consumption with my first world problems. I was challenged to see in a broader perspective than my own little world.
Dressember is such a worthy cause, and I’m happy I participated. Not only was I able to
raise both awareness and money to end such a horrific thing, but I learned much about myself and was able to grow throughout the process as well.
Be a modern day abolitionist. Educate yourself on slavery in our world, and work to end it through any option you have. It truly can be as easy as wearing a dress.