Christy, tell us about yourself and Dressember.
This was my 6th year participating in Dressember, but the first year I actively raised funds for the campaign due to the new Canadian campaign option! I was apprehensive and wasn’t sure how much money I could realistically expect to raise. I set my goal and started telling people about it. I wore the same dress every day for December and posted photos with the Dressember facts each day and my reflections on being stuck in the same outfit every day…and proceeded to raise over 4x more than my goal! The only downside is I set a lot of challenges for each fundraising goal and had to do a lot of extra things in a dress including wearing a bridesmaid dress to work…but it was worth it! It was so exciting to see the success of not just my campaign but the entire Dressember Canada campaign. I’m honoured to be a part of the movement raising awareness and bringing an end to human trafficking.
How did you learn about IJM?
I actually heard about IJM through Dressember, believe it or not! I had found out about the fundraiser and then through researching and deciding to participate I learned about IJM and their mission.
Tell us about your personal justice journey. (How did you get to where you are now, what caused you to care? What led your passion for injustice?)
The church I attended for high school and university was very interested in seeking ways to live out Micah 6:8, which says “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Justice is such a huge topic and there are so many facets to it – gender, race, ability, age, weight … the list goes on and on.
My sister was very taken with the idea of slavery and immediately started refusing to have any chocolate that was not fair trade and boycotted companies known for child labour. It was through her that we heard about Dressember. My sister couldn’t participate the first year, so I did it for her. She gave me stats and little facts about slavery for me to use to talk to people and post online…and I slowly became much more passionate about the mission. Every year I wonder if I’ll participate again (I truly hate wearing a dress every day for a month), but every year I find myself saying “if not me, then who?”
What have you learned from your justice journey?
There is no action that is too small! I often feel helpless about how many injustices there are – but we are not helpless to start fighting back. I might not be able to end slavery today, nor am I able to end world hunger, racism, or gender inequality. But I can do small things and those small things can make a difference.
Describe one of your favourite moments from Dressember?
I had so many incredible moments this year in my campaign, but one that stands out the most is a conversation I had with a co-worker I don’t know very well. They had found out about my campaign and wanted to let me know that they were sending my page to other people they knew. It was a “bigger than a dress” moment for me to realize that conversations were happening and awareness was spreading beyond my circle of influence.
What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced?
Fatigue! This year I wore the same dress every day for 47 days (the extra 16 days were due to fundraising challenges I put in place). It was mentally exhausting to have committed to wearing something that wasn’t the most comfortable piece of clothing, but it was also just tiring to remember to post on social media every day and actively tell people about what I was doing (I’m an introvert so starting conversations is not my forte,) I also struggled with body confidence in the dress and questioned if all my work to make a campaign and post daily was worth it. Spoiler – it was. There are many moments when I look back on the experience that made it worth every uncomfortable moment.
What’s the #1 tip/advice you would give someone who wants to get involved?
Start small. Your campaign does NOT have to be a huge social media platform with branded content and multiple fundraising events. You don’t need 31 dresses and you don’t have to tell everyone you meet what you’re doing. You can make a difference just by rotating through whatever dresses you own and telling your best friend about it.
Beyond Dressember, your first fight towards injustice can be as simple as buying a cup of fair trade coffee instead of your regular cup, going to a thrift store instead of the mall, or buying the chocolate bar with the fair trade symbol instead of the other one (lots of stores carry fair trade options now!) Don’t worry about the details – just go for it!
How do you plan to change the world?
Small, consistent changes! I think that we have more influence than we think we do. Grand gestures and massive life changes are all well and good but consistently taking steps to treat everyone with love, kindness, and respect can create just as effective and lasting ripple effects.
What is your favourite way to waste time?
Reading, Netflix, crafting, and trying not to kill my succulents!