Dressember. What’s Dressember?
This is what I thought 2 years ago as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed each morning and saw one of the young women in our church posting pictures of her in a dress day after day. FINALLY, after a few days I’m embarrassed to admit (and you know you do it too 😉 ~ like pictures without reading the captions… lol), I took the time to actually read what she was writing. She was talking about this thing she was doing called Dressember. It’s similar to Movember for men which brings awareness and raises money to help prostate cancer. She went on to explain how each day in the month of December she would be wearing a dress to raise awareness about what’s happening in the world in regards to sex trafficking, as well as how people can be a part of helping to eradicate it. I don’t know about you but for me when it comes to BIG issues like… homelessness, poverty, orphans, and trafficking I feel so small. I feel like ‘what can I do?’. I can’t end it, I can’t even make a dent in it. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t even know where to start. I’m a girl and a wife and a mom just barely making it through the day~ let alone eradicating sex trafficking from the planet. And so…. I do nothing.
I think this is why Dressember stood out to me because here was this ordinary girl like me~ and she WAS doing something about it. She was making it known. She was educating people on the issues. She was informing people on the reality of what was going on. She was a small part of something BIG that was making a difference. I thought to myself… I can do this!
Fast forward to December 1st 2015… I woke up that morning all butterfly’ee excited to start. I put on my dress, headed to work, had a friend snap my pic, and posted it. I was feeling pretty good (about myself). Day 2, same thing…. Day 3 repeat, Day 4…. UGH~ It’s cold and I hate wearing dresses. Everyone who know’s me knows I’m a holy jeans wearing kind of girl. Like… I wear jeans EVERY DAY. I basically consider myself to be a jeans model. I can make them sporty rolled up with Converse, cutesy paired with cute strappy sandals, hipster’ish in a 42 year old kind of way with ankle boots and a cardigan, and then evening wear with heels and a blousy top. I mean seriously, do we even need anything else in the closet outside of jeans?! I say NO.
I tell you this for two reasons…
- Because people were used to seeing me in jeans.
- Because NOT wearing jeans actually turned out to be quite difficult for me
As I said… people were used to seeing me in jeans, and sooooo when they’d see me in a dress the first assumption was that something REALLY special must be going on, a wedding, party, funeral maybe. And everyone asked,,, Why the dress? Where are you headed? This surprised me. I wasn’t prepared for just how often I would have the opportunity to share WHY I was wearing a dress. I soon realized how little I actually knew about WHY I was wearing a dress. I knew I was going to post super cute pictures of me in a dress each day (insert sarcastic/winky eyed emogi here)… but I wasn’t prepared (aka educated) on exactly WHAT the statistics for trafficking were. About a week in I found that I needed to really start researching so that I’d actually have something to say to people about why I cared about trafficking when I was trying to tell them about how THEY should care about it. As I did this… the reading and researching and getting educated I found that it was actually ME that I was reaching through being an advocate for Dressember. 2 things that stood out to me the most (not that they are the most important 2 things… just 2 that surprised me and stuck with me) were 1. That girls around the age of 12 were the most highly sought after for trafficking and 2. How ginormous of an issue trafficking is right here in the United States. Up till then when I thought of trafficking I thought of women in far away third world countries not girls right here in my own backyard. Literally, Riverside County is considered to be a ‘hot bed’ for trafficking~ even finding the 10 fwy interchange a few minutes away from my church mentioned. This shocked me, until…
Until I met someone who I now consider one of my best friends. A friend who I hang out with on a regular basis. A friend who stays with my children when Matt & I go out of town. A friend who looks like me, went to a private school growing up like me, named her daughter the same name as I named mine. We are samesies in so many ways. Except… what our days looked like when we each came home from our private schools looked very different. You see my friend was trafficked beginning at the age of 12 right here in the US of A. I was shocked by this. Shocked and convicted and broken hearted and compelled to care! Care in a new way because now trafficking wasn’t far away~ it was one of my most favorite people’s real story. And I realized that everyone trafficked is someone’s real people too. Someone’s sister, daughter, mother, friend. Everyone trafficked is loved deeply and matters to someone somewhere who probably feels helpless like I did. And I wanted to be able to help those people now too. Help them rescue their favorite people.
I’m not kidding you when I tell you that I had multiple opportunities a day to share about Dressember. LIKE multiple. I couldn’t believe that wearing a dress could get this much attention. It works. This wearing a dress every day is a real thing. As the month went on, the pictures were posted, people were inspired, awareness was spread, and funds were raised… I was feeling pretty good. Except secretly I hated wearing a dress. I had a serious attitude problem. The closet… it was in my closet that this part of me could be on display. Out there… it was all smiles and cute posted pictures and I was all in. But in the closet~ I was grumpy and bitter about wearing a stupid dress. I’d gripe about it to my husband and kids. I loved talking and sharing about trafficking and Dressember, it was just the wearing the actual dresses that I hated.
But then… one morning, about half way through the month, I felt the Lord speak to my heart. He said…
Wearing this dress is not to bring awareness to everyone else, it’s for YOU. It’s a reminder for you, an alarm clock of sorts, to remember right here quietly in your closet each morning where you’ve been your grumbly worst and no one see’s you~ but I see you . A reminder each morning to remember. Remember them by wearing a dress. A dress on a day even if it’s cold or windy…it’s still your choice. A dress that maybe you’ve already worn already because you don’t have 31 different dresses… wear it again. A dress that’s meant for summer but it’s winter and it’s the only clean dress you have and there’s worse things going on than having to wear a summery hibiscus flower hawaiian dress in winter. A dress on a day where maybe it’s inconvenient or you’re just not ‘feeling it’. These little things… they’re all luxury frustrations you get to afford. These girls, the one’s you feel so ‘good’ about advocating for… these would be their dream frustrations. They don’t get to worry about such things so trivial as this. Their worries look much differently. And isn’t this the whole reason you decided to do this? Wasn’t it to help them? Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if they could have these issues? If these were their daily struggles? Instead, they are dealing with much bigger issues. Ones they don’t get to decide for themselves. Ones they have no control over. At least you get to pick the dress. At least you get to decide everyday to keep doing this or not. If only they had the freedom to make that same choice. Let’s remember this!
This is what Dressember became for ME. A reality check. I became aware. This changed me. Each morning after that little message from the Lord putting on the dress was MY reminder. Reminder to pray. My prayers began looking something like this…
Lord, I don’t know these women and children but you do. On my own I can’t make a difference, I can’t change things… but you can. You see them and love them and have just as much of a plan and purpose for their life as you do mine or my own children, I believe this. Today let me live in a way that shines light into this dark place. You don’t need my (our) money to change things, but as you already know~ our hearts are often so tied to our money, let my money and the money of the people who see why I’m doing Dressember reflect our hearts. Fish and loaves… I ask that you take whatever money is donated and multiply it to begin eradicating the sex trafficking that’s big and scary and almost defeating… almost. BUT thank you for what you’ve already been doing through the organizations already on the ground~ specifically the International Justice Mission and the A21 campaign. Thank you that they are not scared or overwhelmed by the gravity of it all. Thank you Blyth HIll, the founder of Dressember, and her mustard seed faith that she could make a difference… and now mountains are being moved. Thank you for making a way for me to actually have a way and an opportunity to make a difference in something that we know is so close to your heart. Today let me be bold in spreading awareness and unafraid to ask people to join by giving. I’ll wear the dress on behalf of all of us. I’ll wear it on cold and windy days. I’ll wear it when I’m not ‘feeling it’. I’ll wear the same dress over and over if I have to. Let me know forget that it’s not about the dress.
Throughout the month many women would tell me they wished they’d done it, OR that they wanted to do it with me if I did it again this year… so here we are! It’s my prayer that everyone who was inspired will join me, and that they’ll inspire a whole new group of people to join. For more information on the Cultivate Women team you can visit our Dressember page on our website, but here’s a quick snapshot of it..
- Got to Dressember.org
- Choose ‘join a team’
- Search ‘Cultivate Women’
- Create your personal profile page
- Link your personal profile page in all your social media accounts.
- Get started…
- Start wearing a dress
- Take pics and share to spread awareness and raise funds
- Tell everyone who asks you ‘what you’re dressed up for?’ WHY you are wearing a dress
- Pray. Pray everyday for those currently being trafficked
- Follow along with us.
- Follow @cultivatewomen on social media for daily updates
- Read the weekly blog posts
- Tag us in your posts
I’m so excited about the dozens of women who’ve already joined our team~ and if you haven’t joined yet but want to… it’s not too late. I’m hoping all of the women of Cultivate will participate in one way or another as an act of exceptional kindness AND an opportunity to be about something so much bigger than ourselves. WHY? because we can, and there’s a lot of us, and our women are truly amazing and generous, and we each have such a unique sphere of influence, and because all of our little bits add up to A LOT. If you want to be a part and don’t want to wear the dress… I’ll wear it for you! I’m committed to wearing a dress (again;) all 31 days during the month of December. I’ll wear the dress… you can donate. We’ll be a team like that! Together we can be a part of cultivating dignity & justice for all women.
PS… In the few short years Dressember has been a thing it has raised over a million dollars to help fight human trafficking. This has been done by a bunch of ordinary women just like me! Each of on our own couldn’t make a dent, but together… together a huge impact is being made! To learn more about Dressember visit http://dressember.org, and I highly recommend watching the founder Blyth Hill’s Tedx Talk.
PSS… Also~ I’ve also personally officially declared January “Jeans January” for all who want to join! 😉