It’s Tuesday and also the 2nd of December, which also means it’s the 2nd day of Dressember!
This is my second year participating in Dressember, and I’m really thankful for a chance to be involved in a very small way in a much larger issue. The founder of Dressember, Blythe Hill, has partnered with International Justice Mission in order to raise awareness and funds that go directly into rescuing victims and hiring lawyers to change legislation in order to crack down on trafficking all over the world. Essentially, my part is easy: to wear a dress each day of December and hopefully raise some money towards this very worthy cause.
I’m not much a dress girl. The last time I was really excited to wear a dress was probably second grade, a year which came to a dramatic halt once I entered third grade, at which point I decided that boys were dumb and when every single outfit could be punctuated by a baseball cap.
Look at that mean mug. I mean, hot dang.
I’m pretty sure I fought and cried on this picture day because I had to wear a skirt in front of all the boys I normally did PE with and I was mortified beyond words.
I even made a pact with my best friend at the time, Katie, about how we’d never like boys, never wear makeup, never wear dresses, etc, and we held true to that for as long as humanly possible… all the boys had bowl cuts at the time and that was pretty hard to resist in the following years.
Even up through the past few years I rarely put on dresses. Even though I was punky and tomboyish as a little girl, I’m still not frilly or sparkly or girly even to this day. Especially after a year of wearing below-the-knee skirts, since being home in the States I’ve been on Team Pants because it’s so much more convenient and I feel more comfortable.
The truly interesting thing about all of this is that from my childhood all the way through to my young adulthood, I’ve had the freedom to more or less call the shots on how I dress. If I wanted to wear pink little dresses with white flower headbands, I could. If I wanted to wear big t-shirts and boots and backwards hats, I could. I was a child, and I was born into a good home with the freedoms that come with that. Besides school and chores at home, I spent most of my childhood being just that: a child.
It’s hard to say what my life could have looked like if I were born in a different home, or in a different country. It’s not my fault that I was born where I was any more than a young girl in a poor rural town in the Philippines can help where she was born and what she must face.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m not privileged, because I am. I am privileged because I was born into a middle class family in America and I have never wanted for anything. I have grown up in a loving home, with more than enough love, food, education and medical care. I have known about and known Jesus since I was a young girl. I’ve been encouraged to pursue my dreams. I’ve been loved. I’ve been given so much. I’d be a fool to pretend that privilege isn’t a real thing and hasn’t played a huge hand in shaping my life. (Is “blessed” another way to say “privileged”? Thoughts?)
In fact the only thing that would make me a fool would be me choosing to sit back and breathe a sigh of relief and thankfulness that “I have it so much better than so many others”, and thinking that that’s somehow good enough because it is not.
My sisters are one of my biggest motivations for me fighting this, though they don’t even know it. When I first started reading statistics back when I was in high school, one particular article struck me full in the chest when I read that the average age of girls trafficked for sex was between 11 and 17. Sarah was 10 and Christina was 14 at the time and the idea of anything even remotely like that happening to them made me so sick and so angry that I couldn’t see straight for days. As a big sister, and I pretty obnoxiously protective one at that (sorry girls), I would do anything to keep my sisters safe from harm–like I’d probably accidentally commit murder if they were in danger, so I pray to never see that day come. Part of my privilege means that I don’t have as much cause to worry because they were born into this privilege as well. It doesn’t stop me from getting my feathers ruffled from time to time, though. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when I (please, Lord) have daughters of my own.
So, let it be personal, guys.
Because it is personal.
I don’t actually have words for how thankful I am that for an entire month it’s socially acceptable to share the uncomfortable, inconvenient truth that affects nearly 30 million people regardless of their gender, age, socioeconomic status or global location. If I have to wear a dress to do it, then I will. I recognize my freedom in that I am able to choose to do this for myself, share about it on social media (where I am not censored) and not live in fear that I’ll be publicly shamed for doing so, and I thank God for that.
I hope that I’ll never shut up about this, because I owe it to those who can’t protest to do it for them. I won’t become a voice for the voiceless, but I hope to someday create an environment where those who are silenced can get their voices back for themselves.