This month, despite dropping temperatures and biting winds, several students will be wearing dresses every day.
This month isn’t just December, for some, it’s Dressember. Dressember is a call, not only to wear a dress for 31 days in a row, but to give attention and funds to the International Justice Mission, which advocates against human trafficking.
Members at Baylor’s chapter of IJM are readying their closets now for the monthlong pledge.
“I was having dress-up yesterday to figure this out! Sometimes all the girls will get together and it’s like, ‘OK, we’ve got long sleeves and sweaters, how do we put this under and over things, how many pairs of tights do we need?'” Perris, Calif., junior Annie Perrello said. “It’s actually really fun, because you get to look at your clothes in a different way.”
Of course, the month isn’t only about fashion. Participants in Dressember are looking for sponsors who will donate funds to the national branch of IJM, funds which will go to running the organization’s offices and supporting human rights outreach programs.
The global coalition, which uses university chapters to raise awareness for its cause, works in countries from Guatemala to Uganda to rescue individuals from sexual and personal violence. The nonprofit group’s effectiveness in working alongside local leaders and governments to effect change has been recognized by the State Department, The New York TImes and other outlets.
Wearing dresses is a tribute to the dignity of women, especially the women that IJM advocates for. Because so few would choose to wear a dress every day during one of the coldest month of the year, the effort draws attention to the work that IJM is doing on campus an around the world.
IJM’s work doesn’t end with Dressember. In the spring, the Baylor chapter will hold a Justice Week highlighting fair trade practices and the injustice of human trafficking. There will also be a 24 hour Stand for Freedom at Fountain Mall that calls attention to the millions of people who are trapped in slavery today.
In addition to these events, the Baylor chapter of IJM has coordinated efforts within Waco to fight injustice. The group works with UnBound, which fights to free victims of sex trafficking and spread awareness of human rights issues. Students have also put together a safehouse for young people and survivors of sex trafficking under the name She Is Freedom.
“We started a domestic minor trafficking safehouse here. It’s a project, so it’s still in the works,” said Laguna Beach, Calif. senior Jake Herbert, the president of the Baylor chapter of IJM. “It’s been really neat to do something tangible like that.”
Students can make a difference even in something seemingly as frivolous as the clothes they wear each day. Baylor IJM aims to raise $3,100 for its national organization through Dressember, money which will go directly to victims abroad and at home. Anyone can participate in Dressember, however, all it takes is a closet full—or even a handful—of dresses.