Alex Collins is making a difference one dress at a time.
No, she’s not selling them. She’s wearing them. Alex is a 25-year-old barista, writer and New England native who now resides in Waukesha, Wisconsin and is taking part in the international Dressember campaign.
Dressember is a month-long fundraising and awareness campaign dedicated to ending human trafficking. The movement uses fashion to fight for human rights.
The campaign had its beginnings as a challenge that Blythe Hill, the founder of the movement gave herself, to see if she could wear a dress every day in December. The next year some of her friends joined her. The year after that, even more, people joined in.
In 2013 the challenge transformed when it turned into a campaign to aid the fight against sex trafficking. What started out as a small challenge with one person has now transformed into a movement with over eight thousand advocates. The campaign has raised over 3 million dollars for the fight against sex trafficking.
Dressember isn’t just for girls; many people who are taking part have made the campaign their own. Guys who want to get involved have found ways to participate ranging from bowties to overalls, and for the really daring, kilts. Advocates for Dressember use their fashion statements to start up conversations about human trafficking and to fundraise for Dressember’s Partners; International Justice Mission, A21 and McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center.
Alex first learned about Dressember through social media, when she saw a friend’s Instagram of herself in a dress and read the caption mentioning Dressember. Alex followed up in person with her friend and learned about the campaign€”in 2016 she decided to participate.
€œI chose to do Dressember because it is something that the everyman can do. With such a large issue it’s hard to feel you can make an impact€”but with this you can do something tangible, but simple€”you talk to people and start a conversation.€
The month-long campaign does have its challenges. €œThe winter weather in Wisconsin is similar to New England. And it’s hard, some days I just want to wear sweatpants€”but you adapt€”I’ve invested in fleece lined leggings and learned the importance of layering.€
Along with learning the ropes of managing a difficult wardrobe for the weather, Alex is an introvert, so speaking up about human trafficking with total strangers was a bit daunting starting out. But in the end, she thinks it’s worth it.
€œWearing a dress and sacrificing comfort is something that I can do. My biggest goal is to raise awareness and learn and do whatever it is I am able to do ”even if it means I have to be extroverted.”
This year is different from her first year in Dressember, as Alex is on a team titled Fight it with Fashion with three of her coworkers at Mama D’s, the coffee shop where she works. Together, the four girls have a fundraising goal of $2,500. Alex decided to challenge herself this year and made her goal double the amount she raised in 2016.
Working on a team is instrumental in keeping up motivation and helps each member stay encouraged and positive.
€œEven if you’re not making your goal that day, one of your teammates might have, or they may have had a great conversation and knowing that makes your day.
Alex’s own positive encounter she felt impacted by occurred at the very beginning of Dressember.
€œAt the beginning of the month we put up information in Mama D’s and within five minutes of putting it up€”and it didn’t even say anything much on it, it said€”do you want to end human trafficking? A customer came over to me and asked €˜Is there any way I can donate? I have four daughters and I worry about sex trafficking every single day.’€”the fact that he cared and stepped out€”People notice and care.€
It’s encounters like these with people who genuinely want to help to end human trafficking€”but don’t know how€”that keeps Alex feeling that what she is doing is making an impact. €œSeeing the difference it makes,€ Alex says, €œmakes me bold.€
As of writing this article, Alex is $60 shy of reaching her goal of $500. Dressember is taking donations through the month of January. Donate to support Alex’s team, Fight it with Fashion:
To read more about Dressember go here:
88% of Dressember’s funds go directly to help end Human Trafficking. To learn more about where your money is going, click here:
Briana Leighton is a college student in the Keene New Hampshire area.
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