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A21 Dressember Ethical Fashion Everyday Advocacy IJM

Dressember: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Thanks to all of you who stopped by my table at Imagine Conference last weekend!

Dressember at Imagine Conference

I wore a dress to Imagine Conference, and I didn’t die!

Remember how on Friday night Eugene Cho reminded us that even as Christians, we tend to be more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world? Yeah; that one cut me deep.

Well, what if I told you there was an opportunity to go beyond just being upset about human trafficking? What if there was an opportunity to learn not only about this unimaginable evil that has stolen the lives of millions of victims around the world and in our own backyard, but also about the triumphant stories of rescue and restoration made possible by anti-trafficking organizations? What if there was an opportunity to not only share what you learn with your people so they’re aware but also to raise money on behalf of these organizations so they can continue their vital work and move ever closer to abolishing modern-day slavery during our lifetimes?

AND what if I told you you can do all of these things just by putting on a dress? (Men, don’t stop reading.)

The Problem: Slavery Still Exists

There are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history. 

Here are the facts:

The U.S. State Department last put the number of victims worldwide at an estimated 27 million, but according to its most recent report, it’s likely in the tens of millions.

Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating more than $150 billion USD every year, according to the International Labour Organization.

In 2016, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims. Of those, 86% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran away. According to UNICEF, 2 million children are being subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade.

While there is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the United States, it probably reaches into the hundreds of thousands.So far in 2017, there have been 117 reported cases of human trafficking in Pennsylvania.

And here’s the kicker: Only 1 percent of human trafficking victims are ever rescued.

These numbers are huge and hard to swallow. They’re so big, the faces behind them get lost, and we forget they’re people. Women. Children. Created with a destiny and a purpose, with inherent dignity, with great value and worth. We turn away. Because what can we possibly do to change any of this?

The Solution: Put on a Dress, Take a Stand, Change the World

Blythe Hill was a fashion blogger before there was an Instagram. She was also a bored college student in 2009 who came up with a personal style challenge to wear a dress every day in December, calling it “Dressember.” She completed it herself and thought that’s where it would end. Until the following year when her friends wanted to join her, then their friends, and their friends’ friends. Four years in, Hill had the idea of making Dressember into something bigger.

It was around 2005 when I started hearing about the issue of human trafficking. I began learning that slavery exists in every city in the world, around every major sporting event, at brickyards, brothels, truck stops and massage parlors. It’s estimated that there are currently over 30 million people trapped in slavery—more than any other point in history.

When I started hearing about trafficking, I felt an urgency to do something, and so naturally, I looked at my skillset for a way to engage. The problem was my interests and talents didn’t seem to line up with making a difference. I’m not a social worker, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a cop. I’m someone who’s interested in fashion, trend analysis, wordplay, and blogging. My interests felt shallow in the grand scheme of things. I remember feeling powerless, and thinking, “There’s nothing I can do.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it (see above)? But Hill stepped back, realized she’d created a “movement” without even meaning to around the style challenge of wearing a dress every day in December, and decided to align her interest in fashion with her desire to do something.

In 2013, Dressember took on new meaning, opposing the worldwide trafficking and exploitation of women by aligning with IJM, a human rights organization that works to rescue victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. In 2015, Dressember added a second grant partner: A21, which exists to abolish modern-day slavery in the 21st century.

In just the past four years, Dressember advocates have raised almost $3 million to support the work of IJM and A21! Thanks to all of your support the past two years I’ve participated as an advocate (I blogged about it here and here), I’ve been able to raise nearly $2,500!

When you participate in Dressember, you become an advocate for freedom and dignity as well as a voice for the millions of voiceless women, children, and men around the world who are enslaved. How?

Become an Advocate

Commit to wearing a dress (or tie if you’re a guy; see I told you men not to stop reading!) every day in December and telling people about it. Link arms with fellow advocates to raise money and awareness for the fight against global human trafficking. These are the steps.

1. Join Dressember Pittsburgh.

Visit bit.ly/dressember2017 and click on “Join Team.” Don’t forget to select Dressember Pittsburgh as the team you want to join once you set up your personal page.

2. Set your fundraising goal.

You could start off at $50 or $100, but why go small? My first year, and I set a goal of $500. I raised $750! This year I’m going for $3,000.

3. Choose your personal url.

This is where you direct your supporters so choose something they’ll recognize, like your name: support.dressemberfoundation.org/fundraiser/yourname

4. Change the world.

Spread the word, especially on social media, and encourage your friends and family to get involved by supporting your campaign. Every time you post, use #dressember, #dressemberpgh, and #itsbiggerthanadress, and feel free to check out my Instagram feed from last December for inspiration. You certainly don’t have to post every day; it was my way of staying on track, and my tiny group of fans really liked following along.

Feel free to share links to this blog post as well as the team page to encourage your friends to join us!

Our Dressember Pittsburgh team fundraising goal is $6,300, which is the approximate cost of one rescue operation.

5. Win prizes!

The first three people to join Dressember Pittsburgh and raise $50 on their page will receive an official Dressember pin from me! Plus Dressember does giveaways and offers incredible incentives to the top fundraising individuals and teams!

Donate

Not into wearing dresses (seriously you don’t need to own a lot of them—I’m planning to rotate two to three of them all month with different accessories)? Please consider making a donation.

Give to my campaign! My goal this year is $3,000. And don’t forget to follow along with me on social media during the month of December. I’ll post every day on Instagram and occasionally on Facebook.

That’s it! I can’t wait to do this with you. Let me know in the comments if you’re participating this year or plan to next Dressember, and of course please let me know if you have any questions!

xoxo

Dressember Ethical Fashion Everyday Advocacy Imagine Conference

Imagine Spotlight: Dressember

Are you coming to Imagine Conference? Have you registered yet? The deadline is TODAY.

The Story: It’s Bigger Than a Dress

Dressember is a collaborative movement leveraging fashion and creativity to promote the inherent dignity of all people. Since 2013, Dressember has grown into an international movement to save lives.
In just the past four years, thousands of women have raised more than $3 million to end human trafficking—I participated for the first time two years ago and since then I’ve raised nearly $2,500!—just by wearing dresses.

Started by Blythe Hill in 2009, Dressember began as a quirky style challenge with a clever name that spread like wildfire. In 2013, it took on new meaning, opposing the worldwide trafficking and exploitation of women by aligning with International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that works to rescue victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. In 2015, Dressember added a second grant partner: A21, which exists to abolish modern-day slavery in the 21st century.

When you participate in Dressember, you become an advocate for freedom and dignity as well as a voice for the millions of voiceless women, children, and men around the world who are enslaved. How?

Become an Advocate

Commit to wearing a dress (or tie if you’re a guy!) every day in December and telling people about it. Link arms with fellow advocates to raise money and awareness for the fight against global human trafficking.

Join our team: Dressember Pittsburgh. Our goal is to raise $6,300—the cost of one rescue mission. Simply visit bit.ly/dressember2017, click on Join Team, set up your personal fundraising page, then join Dressember Pittsburgh!

Donate

Not into wearing dresses (seriously you don’t need to own a lot of them—I’m planning to rotate two to three of them all month with different accessories)? Make a donation.

Give to my campaign! My goal this year is $3,000. And don’t forget to follow along on social media during the month of December.

Want to learn more about Dressember? Come to Imagine Conference this Friday and Saturday!

Ethical Fashion Everyday Advocacy Imagine Conference

Imagine Spotlight: Anugra

Are you coming to Imagine Conference? Have you registered yet? The deadline is Wednesday!

The Story: Purchase and Empower

Anugra creates modern home goods that are environmentally sustainable, fair trade, and that contribute toward creating better opportunities for women in India. Pronounced uh•new•gruh, the name comes from the Hindi word “anugraha,” meaning blessing and grace.

It all started when Daisy, an Indian woman passionate about gender equality, saw a need for women empowerment in oppressive communities throughout her home country. A sewing center developed, providing women from these oppressive environments with a safe space and skill set that would otherwise be unfathomable. Fifteen years and over 3,500 trained women later, they were ready for the next step, wondering ‘How can we advance this to an even greater level of community impact?’

Anugra was born out of a desire to directly employ the top seamstresses and build a social enterprise. One that would pour back into the ministry while elevating sewing skills, literacy, fair wages, as well as creating safe spaces to work and grow together. Daisy’s nephew, Emmanuel Pothen, then living in Gloucester, Mass., took that desire and turned it into reality, bringing on Brooke Fryer as Anugra’s creative director.

Each product is handmade by women in Bhopal, India.

In the western world, purchase power is a new found glory. We all want to know where each of our products come from and how many hands have handled it. We have the privilege to choose: the choice to participate in transformation and impact. Quality over quantity. We have the opportunity to invest in more than our personal wardrobe or décor, but in lives across the globe, writing a new story for humans just like us, born into different circumstances.

Bindu printing table runners

Brooke Fryer (far right) with some of the women of Anugra

Website: anugra.co

Purchase: anugra.co/shop

Donate: anugra.co/donate

Follow: anugra.co on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

 

Want to learn more about Anugra and meet Brooke? Come to Imagine Conference this Friday and Saturday!

Want to shop these pieces in person and hear the incredible stories behind them? Join us for Discover Anugra on Monday, November 13, at 7 p.m. at North Way Christian Community, 12121 Perry Hwy., Wexford, PA 15090.

Dressember Ethical Fashion Everyday Advocacy

Dressember 2016: Join me, Pittsburgh!

Dressember Pittsburgh

Hey, local friends, want to help end modern-day slavery by wearing dresses?

Dressember is a collaborative movement leveraging fashion and creativity to restore dignity to all women. In just the past three years, thousands of women have raised more than $1.5 million to end human trafficking—I participated for the first time last year; this year, you can help me bring this movement to Pittsburgh!

Started by Blythe Hill in 2009, Dressember began as a quirky style challenge with a clever name that spread like wildfire. In 2013, it took on new meaning, opposing the worldwide trafficking and exploitation of women by aligning with International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that works to rescue victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. In 2015, Dressember added a second grant partner: A21, which exists to abolish modern-day slavery in the 21st century.

When you participate in Dressember, you become an advocate for freedom and dignity as well as a voice for the millions of voiceless women, children, and men around the world who are enslaved. How? You commit to wearing a dress every day in December, telling people about it on social media, and sharing your personal fundraising page. That’s it!

Responses to common objections:

No, you do not have to own a ton of dresses to participate. The founder originally wore the same dress all month and just paired it with different accessories. I’m probably going to rotate three or four dresses.

Yes, it’s okay to wear your uniform, scrubs, etc. to work, and no, you don’t have to wear a dress when you work out or go to bed. When you have a choice of what to wear, wear the dress.

Yes, you can wear leggings under your dress when it gets cold.

No, skirts don’t count unless you wear them over your dress.

Yes, it’s fun. And easy.

Ready to sign up? Here’s what you do:

1. Join Dressember Pittsburgh.

Visit support.dressemberfoundation.org/pittsburgh and click on “Join Team.”

2. Set your fundraising goal.

You could start off at $50 or $100, but why go small? Last year was my first year, and I set a goal of $500. I raised $750! This year I’m going for $1,000, because why not?

3. Choose your personal url.

This is where you direct your supporters so choose something they’ll recognize, like your name: support.dressemberfoundation.org/yourname

4. Change the world.

5. Win prizes!

The first three people to join Dressember Pittsburgh will receive an official Dressember pin! Everyone who signs up and raises at least $50 will be entered to win a Noonday Collection necklace! Plus Dressember does giveaways and offers prizes to the top fundraising teams! So yay!

Questions? Contact me or visit dressember.org/faq for answers.

Finally, share away on social media! Feel free to share links to this blog post as well as the team page to encourage your friends to join you. Every time you post, use #dressemberpgh and #itsbiggerthanadress, and feel free to check out my Instagram feed from last December for inspiration. You certainly don’t have to post every day; it was my way of staying on track, and my tiny group of fans really liked following along.

Can’t wait to do this with you!

xoxo

Ethical Fashion Everyday Advocacy

Ethical Fashion: Our Clothes Tell A Story, Part 2

ethical fashion our clothes tell a story

Miss part one? Check it out here. Both articles are excerpted from an April 21, 2016, presentation I gave on ethical fashion.

So are you ready? Here are the small steps.

#1. Go through your closet, on a fact-finding mission.

Identify the pieces you love and that look amazing on you and that make you feel so happy when you wear them, even if there aren’t many.

#2. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of a capsule wardrobe.

If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and Google it. un-fancy.com is a great resource, but there are tons of people and bloggers who’ve jumped on board with this. The idea is, you’ve gone through your closet, you’ve pared down to only the pieces you love and that make you happy, and from there you form a small collection of totally versatile pieces for each season that you can mix and match and add accessories to. You’ll shop for clothes approximately twice a year, and you’ll love wearing them.

#3. Shop secondhand.

This is by far the best way to do ethical fashion on a budget—because by buying secondhand you’re not contributing to the fast fashion problem—and there are so many great options out there right now in consignment and resale.

schoola.com is actually a kids consignment site that donates to the school of your choice, so you can enter your kids’ school and get your friends and family to also. Pretty cool. If you’re local, check out Repurposed, a thrift store on McKnight Road. It’s owned and operated by Living in Liberty, a ministry that provides a safe house to victims of sex trafficking and does street outreach with victims right here in Pittsburgh!

Another option if you’re getting rid of a lot of clothes at once is to host a clothing swap. They are so much fun; let me know if you’re interested in organizing one. Everyone brings the seasonal clothes they’re getting rid of (in good, rewearable condition), and then you swap! You can even use it as a fundraiser by having people bring a couple dollars to participate.

#4. When you can, stick to slow fashion:

Buy fair trade, made in the USA, handmade, organic, mission-driven (brands that give back, like TOMS), transparent, upcycled or recycled, zero-waste, and from local and independent designers. Also check out the ethical fashion blogs listed in the resources at the end of this post. The idea here is you might pay a little more than you’re used to on a single article or accessory, but you know where your money is going. And the quality of slow fashion garments is generally better, so in the long run it’s a good use of resources. You’re saving money in the end because you can hold onto and wear the pieces much longer.

#5. Whenever you can, mend your clothes rather than throw them away, or even better, make or have someone make clothes for you!

All of these are great small steps to take, but the bottom line is, unless you feel comfortable and confident in your own personal style, they won’t work very well. For a couple reasons. One, if you don’t know your style, you’ll be much more likely to hold onto clothes you don’t wear and continue to impulse buy cheap clothes you’ll wear a couple times or never. Two, if you don’t know your style, you’ll be more likely to buy clothes simply because they’re cheap or “on trend”—to experience the thrill of getting a good deal or of being “in”—not because they make a solid addition to your wardrobe. Again, this will cost you more over time and contribute to the fast fashion problem. Knowledge is power, girls.

To conclude, let’s have some fun. Let’s talk style.

What is your style? Do not tell me you don’t have a style. Everyone has a style. I’ll say it again: Everyone has a style. Don’t worry if you can’t define yours, or if you’re still figuring out how to make the switch from single lady style to married lady style to mom style. Or if your style hasn’t changed since college. That’s okay. There are ways of finding out what your style is. And don’t think you have an excuse because you “weren’t born with the fashion gene” or “everyone has a better fashion sense than you.” They have a better sense of fashion simply because they’ve spent more time looking at it and practicing it than you have.

The first step to finding your style seems obvious, but we don’t take the time to do it. Look around you.

On the street, at work, at church, at parties, on TV, in magazines, online. What looks are you always, always drawn to? Why, what specifically draws you? The whole look, certain pieces, the colors, the lines, the accessories? Make mental notes or start a Pinterest board. Instagram is my go-to for researching styles. I follow fashion people (not high fashion, mostly mom and street fashion), and by simply scrolling through the images I learn what works and get ideas.

seven style terms

seven style categories (source: Pinterest)

These seven words define seven styles (used by Stitch Fix, a great resource for discovering your style) you might identify with. Search them on Pinterest, and look at the outfits people have put together. Decide which style is the most like yours and own it. Start to experiment outside your comfort zone by trying different ways of styling what you already have.

Also, look in your closet.

What outfits do you love and always gravitate toward—which are your best? Which are your worst? Which are the most and least comfortable?

This next one is so important. Always choose clothes that compliment your shape and body type and that camouflage problem areas.

It can be the trendiest pair of jeans in the world but if it isn’t right for your body type, it will not make you look good.

Finally, can’t say this enough: less is more!


RESOURCES (referenced for this article)

Ethical Fashion Everyday Advocacy

Ethical Fashion: Our Clothes Tell a Story, Part 1 (of 2)

your clothes tell a story

Imagine this scenario:

You’re shopping at Target. That doesn’t require any imagination so scratch that; it doesn’t involve enough imagining. And your kids are definitely with you if you’re at Target, so there’s not a whole lot of actual shopping going on. Imagine you’re shopping in the designer jeans section at Macy’s with your best shopping friend. Not in the clearance section either, the full-price designer jeans.

All of a sudden your friend (who has seemingly become quite “enlightened” lately) tells you she knows for a fact XYZ Company employs forced labor to produce its jeans and that workers at its factories are often abused and paid a substandard wage. Would you try the jeans on? I’m going to guess no. How would you feel toward XYZ as a brand? You would be angry with them, right?

Now imagine you are approached by a researcher doing a study, and you’re asked to rate five brands of jeans that differ along four measures—the style (boot cut or regular cut), the wash (regular or dark), the price and, lastly, whether the company used child labor.

You’re told that due to time constraints, you can only view information about two of the four measures before you come up with your ranking. Be totally honest with yourself: Which two would you choose?

This was an actual experiment, conducted as part of a study by researchers at Ohio State and the University of Texas at Austin. The results were published online in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

When asked which two criteria they would use to rate the jeans, more than 85 percent of participants opted to not find out whether the company used child labor.

According to a write up about the study on NPR online,

“If we’re actually told that a specific product was produced in an unethical way, we won’t want to buy it. Yet given the choice, most of us would rather not know the backstory. We won’t make the effort to, say, download an app or check out a website that could give us ethical ratings of manufacturers. And the reason we avoid this extra checking-up is at least partly that we’re unconsciously afraid of being upset by what we’ll discover.”

The thing is, we likely would be upset by what we discover.

 

cheap clothes fast fashionThe fashion industry has changed dramatically in just the past 20 years, and not for the better.

Two reasons: Cheap clothes and fast fashion.

Clothes became cheaper because we started manufacturing them in developing countries, where production costs are a lot lower. Today we spend a much lower percentage of our incomes on clothes, around 3 percent, and produce them almost entirely overseas.

In 1960, the average American household spent 10% of its income on clothing and shoes, 95 percent of which were made in the United States.

Today, we import 98 percent of the clothing we purchase, so only 2 percent is made in the United States.

“Trendy clothing is cheaper than ever, and cheap clothing is trendier than ever.” —John Oliver

So the question becomes, how do the big brands compete when the clothing is so cheap? The answer is simple: large volume and low quality. To keep their prices really low, retailers have to sell a ton of clothes, and in order to sell a ton of clothes, brands have to produce them quickly and cost effectively. This is the essence of fast fashion retailers H&M, Forever 21, and Zara.

These retailers design clothes to fall apart. Their bottom line depends on it: They need you, the consumer, to buy often and in excess. The clothes typically only last a few washes before they start to fall apart, and then you have to go out and buy more.

Also because of fast fashion, we move through trends at lightning speed now. In the early 90s, there were two to four fashion cycles per year, they were centered around the seasons and planned months in advance. Today, there is no such thing as cycles, only trends, and they are changing constantly. H&M and Forever 21 receive new inventory every single day. This “trend cycle” explains why we feel like we can never catch up to the “it” style of jeans—is it the Boyfriend? Wait no, that was last fall or spring maybe? Now? It’s the Ex Boyfriend. I’m not kidding, look it up.

Add all of this together, and we’re buying way more clothes. According to the 2013 article “Why America Stopped Making Its Own Clothes,” In 1960, the average American bought fewer than 25 garments a year. In 1991, it was around 40. Today, each of us buys, on average 70 pieces of clothing per year, or more than one per week. That amounts to almost 20 billion garments per year, or around 28 percent of all the clothes in the world.

There’s a high environmental toll as well, because we’re throwing away more clothes than ever, overloading landfills and secondhand stores, which can’t keep up. Textile waste has increased by 40% since 1999. Appropriate to mention, because Earth Day is this week. We’re shielded from the environmental and human impacts because our clothing is being produced overseas—the problem is far away.

So hang with me, I’m about to bring it a little closer.

Cheap clothes equal cheap labor. According to Jenna Lusk in a May 2015 article for the Village Blog, most of our clothing is produced in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. Most Chinese workers make about $1-$2.50 an hour; in Bangladesh it’s less than $1. It’s true the cost of living is lower in these countries, but these poverty wages don’t even begin to cover basic necessities like food and shelter. Women often work 14-16 hours a day just to meet their families’ basic needs, which doesn’t enable them to send their kids to school or save for the future.

“The reality is, the fashion industry is a 3 trillion dollar a year industry, and only 2% of apparel companies source from suppliers that pay their workers a fair and living wage.”—Shannon Whitehead in “The True Cost of Fast Fashion”

And wages aren’t the only problem. Sweatshops employ children to meet demand. Men, women, and children are victims of indentured servitude: As of 2016, there are an estimated 27-30 million people in slavery across the globe. Working and living conditions are often unclean and unsafe. Almost three years ago to the day, on April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza complex, which housed several garment factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, killing 1,134 people and injuring 2,500, most of them women. The cause was substandard construction—adding floors on top of floors without proper support—and owners had been warned several times it wasn’t safe.

That’s hard to hear about. All of this is hard. The idea of children being forced to work, women being trafficked and enslaved, mothers and fathers being mistreated and underpaid just for trying to provide for their families, it’s very hard. The world is full of so much hard. We have enough to fight for in our own lives; we have enough difficulties facing us in our marriages, with our kids, at our jobs, in our finances. What’s wrong with a little willful ignorance every once in awhile?

Therein lies the problem. Because there are people behind the clothes we wear.

your clothes tell a story

Every item of clothing, every piece of jewelry, every accessory has a story to tell.

Every factory worker getting paid a substandard wage or being treated unfairly is a person, made in God’s image. And as Christians, we should care, and not only that, we should stand up for the vulnerable and advocate on their behalf.

Right about now you might be thinking, “This is all good information, ethical fashion lady, but what does it have to do with me?” or “Fashion? Seriously? She obviously doesn’t understand my life.” This does have something to do with you, I do understand your life, and I’m about to tell you about some very small steps you can take toward becoming a more conscious consumer.

Because “in order to make purchases that support our values, we must be willing to be conscious, thoughtful consumers—even if it means spending more on quality items.” (“The Case for Thoughtfully Buying Expensive Things”)

Excerpted from an April 21, 2016, presentation I gave on ethical fashion and continued here.

Dressember Ethical Fashion Everyday Advocacy

Dressember: It’s Bigger Than a Dress

If you follow fashionable people who follow fashion bloggers on Instagram, you’ve likely encountered the style challenge. It’s exactly what it sounds like: Said fashion blogger throws out style inspiration and a hashtag, and fashionable followers come up with their own interpretations and take and post selfies. It’s fun, if you have time and the wardrobe for that kind of thing.

Blythe Hill was a fashion blogger pre Instagram. She was also a bored college student in 2009 who came up with a personal style challenge to wear a dress every day in December, calling it “Dressember.” She completed it herself and thought that’s where it would end. Until the following year when her friends wanted to join her, then their friends, and their friends’ friends. Four years in, Hill had the idea of making Dressember into something bigger.

It was around 2005 when I started hearing about the issue of human trafficking. I began learning that slavery exists in every city in the world, around every major sporting event, at brickyards, brothels, truck stops and massage parlors. It’s estimated that there are currently over 30 million people trapped in slavery—more than any other point in history.

When I started hearing about trafficking, I felt an urgency to do something, and so naturally, I looked at my skillset for a way to engage. The problem was my interests and talents didn’t seem to line up with making a difference. I’m not a social worker, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a cop. I’m someone who’s interested in fashion, trend analysis, wordplay, and blogging. My interests felt shallow in the grand scheme of things. I remember feeling powerless, and thinking, “There’s nothing I can do.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I feel that all the time. But Blythe stepped back, realized she’d created a “movement” without even meaning to around the style challenge of wearing a dress every day in December, and decided to align her interest in fashion with her desire to do something. In 2013, she aligned Dressember with International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that works to rescue victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. They raised over $165,000. In 2014, more than 2,600 participants raised over $465,000. This year, Dressember is also supporting A21.

I found out about Dressember because of Noonday Collection—Noonday is a huge supporter and brand partner—and decided to participate this year along with a bunch of my fellow ambassadors all over the country. Every day in December, I’m wearing a dress. I’m also learning as I go about human trafficking, the stolen lives of its victims, and the triumphant stories of rescue made possible by organizations like IJM and A21.

You can join me! You don’t have to wear the dresses. Follow along each day on Instagram. I’ll also be posting occasional updates on Facebook. Learn more at dressember.org, and contribute to my campaign at bit.ly/givetodressember.

Of course follow me here, and let me know in the comments if you’re participating this year or plan to next Dressember!