Miriam Zoghby, ‘22
Millions of people look forward to December, not just for the holidays, but for the annual tradition of Dressember. Starting Dec. 1 and lasting until the end of the month, many women and men wear dresses or ties each day to raise awareness for human trafficking. Human trafficking is the action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Millions of people around the world agree that human trafficking needs to be abolished everywhere and the organizers of Dressember want to bring attention to this important cause.
The Dressember organization partners with other institutions such as The International Justice Mission and A21 to help raise funds for the rescue and rehabilitation of modern day slaves and to end human trafficking. It was started by one girl who decided she would try something new and wear a dress every day of December just as a fun challenge for herself. However, this gained so much attention she figured it could be put to good use the next year. Her friends decided to join her that following year and together they raised money to donate to IJM and A21. Dressember has grown every year since she started it, and now it is an entire organization.
Dressember’s partners both focus on ending human trafficking and modern day slavery. The IJM is a global organization with a plan to eliminate the slave trade everywhere. IJM focuses on rescuing slaves, working with the police on throwing slave owners in jail, and putting the slave trade out of business. A21 is also an organization that is eradicating human trafficking through awareness, intervention, and aftercare in the efforts to end slavery everywhere for the rest of time.
Millions of people participating in Dressember this month have many reasons for doing so. Dressember is not just for advocates of this movement but for anyone who wants to participate in the campaign through soliciting donations or spreading awareness. While some have a reason for participating such as having a strong opinion about modern day slavery, other participants just want to take on the challenge and donate some money for a good cause. “I’m participating in Dressember because one of my Young Life leaders did it two years ago, and brought to my attention that slavery is still very prevalent. It’s one of those things that once you hear about it you can’t help but try to stop it,” said Lauren Westfall, 2018 graduate of Jamesville-DeWitt High School. This is Westfall’s second year participating in Dressember and as much as it’s a long month of dressing up, she believes it’s definitely worth it.
Both men and women that participate in Dressember usually set goals for their fundraising. Last year the Dressember campaign made over $2 million as a whole. “This year I set my goal for $600 and so far I have raised $436. Each year I have raised more money and I believe last year I raised over $1,000,” said Maddy VanHusen, 2016 J-DHS graduate. Anyone can donate money to the Dressember campaign by donating through a friend participating or by going to the Dressember website and donating. Even a small donation can make a huge difference to help the movement.
Wearing a dress or tie for a whole month is definitely a challenge for many people partaking in this fight to end human trafficking. “It’s definitely a struggle to wear a dress for so many days, especially trying not to rewear dresses, but I have a lot of friends who let me borrow some and who have donated which makes the challenge worth it,” said freshman Kali Leslie. Some people find new ways of wearing their dresses such as adding a sweater over or adding accessories like necklaces and scarves to make it seem like they haven’t worn the dress before. Men sometimes even wear dresses including a local pastor named Kyle Pipes, instead of wearing ties for 30 days. This way he gets more attention from others and helps raise awareness. Wearing a dress every day takes commitment, but at the end of the month it is a tremendous feeling to know they accomplished their goal and conquered their challenge.
Although many people are participating in Dressember and raising money to end this problem, others can help to make a difference as well. Dressember is just one month out of the year that focuses on making a difference for this campaign. All together with the help of Dressember, other foundations and movements around the world, human trafficking can successfully come to an end.