I’ve always been a dress-type-of-girl. Dresses make me feel feminine, warm (because usually it’s summer), happy and beautiful. To be honest, in the winter I prefer clothes in a shade darker, something in blue with jeans and warm fabric. However, this year I am wearing a dress every single day in December. And I won’t be the only one doing that. With thousands of other women worldwide, we are asking attention to human trafficking.
This is how the Dressember movement summarizes it themselves:
Dressember is a collaborative movement leveraging fashion and creativity to restore dignity to all women.
The story behind Dressember is familiar to me. I love it so much, because it is so normal. Just a college girl that came up with an idea to wear a dress every day for a month. Out of boredom. To do something different. Later on it became a movement, a way to raise awareness for a cause. I have a history with political campaigning. A couple years ago I became active for a political youth organisation, called PerspectieF. After a couple months I became project leader for a project about Fair Fashion. That wasn’t much of a topic that people paid attention to. Not until 24 April 2013 when Rana Plaza, a large and mostly illegal clothing factory collapsed. The biggest architectural disaster in history with more than a 1000 people that lost their lives and many more that were affected indirectly.
About a year later I got to go to the place myself. I stood on the rubbish of what was once an eight-story building. Largely under water. Pieces of clothing still there in the mud and broken bricks. I met with victims. Forgot that, I met with women. Labourers. Leaders of labour unions. Mothers and sisters. Women that make our clothes for next to nothing. Because the alternative is going into prostitution or worse.
Human trafficking is something that I can’t imagine. I’ve seen children work. I’ve been so close to situations that are considered slavery. That’s the world we live in. In that sense nothing much has changed over time. Yet I am hopeful that if we keep raising our voices, something will change. Even if it is just to raise money for that one operation that will get women out of slavery and trafficking.
Wearing a dress every day in December in the cold winter of Europe is only a minor discomfort compared to the circumstances of so many women. Because every woman deserves dignity. And the freedom to wear a dress every day, just because she wants to.