This is a collaborative piece from MHT therapists Taz Morgan and Maria Elena Marquez. They attended the Dressember 2017 Kickoff Party on Thursday, November 30 at the Unique Space in Downtown LA.
Last week we ventured to the Arts District to attend the Official Dressember Kickoff Party. We weren’t sure what to expect from the event but whatever fantasies we may have had were completely blown out of the water. It was such an impressive and inspiring night of style, generosity and community — all tenets of The Dressember Foundation.
After making a beeline to the food truck, we took in all that the activity of the party - a photo booth, a gingerbread cookie decorating station, a craft table, and a display of The 2017 Dressember Dress Collection, designed by advocates and ethically made by Elegantees. Of note, Elegantees employs survivors of human trafficking in Nepal.
An hour into the party, the emcees (two Dressember board members) took the stage and introduced Dressember founder Blythe Hill. Not only did Blythe speak about the issue of human trafficking and why she is committed to giving grants to non-profits that strive to put an end to violent oppression but she shared how her own experience of sexual trauma has impacted her life. The vulnerability with which she spoke about the burden of shame was palpable. Moreover, we resonated with Blythe's declaration that going to therapy had helped her regain a sense of resiliency and strength, which in turn, propelled her to make a more expansive mark on the world. Furthermore, she talked about a fire being ignited in her soul at the age of 19 to put an end to sex trafficking. Her passionate spirit has indeed fueled the Dressember movement - and in that moment, we both felt a resounding sense of urgency in our own bellies and turned to look at each other - silently acknowledging that we were experiencing something special with this kind of truth-telling.
Next up on the stage were advocates from A21 and International Justice Mission (IJM), two major Dressember partner organizations. The A21 representative told a story about a trafficking survivor who had been a typical teenage girl in Bulgaria. One day this young woman went out on a mid-day coffee date with a young man. She got up to use the bathroom and while she was away from the table, he drugged her drink. The next thing she knew she was strapped to a bed in Greece. The advocate went on to highlight this woman's astounding recovery of hope and freedom. The very charismatic representative from IJM spoke about her work in rescuing children from exploitation in the Philippines. She, too, mentioned the importance of mental health services for survivors. Finally, she got everyone in the room to move to a dance that survivors from a rescue in Manila created.
Towards the end of the night, the emcees presented guests with a challenge to raise enough money for two rescue missions. Witnessing people lining up to make a donations to the cause was heart-warming and just what we needed to ramp up even more enthusiasm about our team fundraising campaign this year.
The Dressember Foundation is an anti-trafficking nonprofit organization with an annual campaign in December where people take on the challenge of wearing either a dress or a tie every day of the month as a way to raise awareness and money for anti-trafficking work.
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE IN DRESSEMBER WITH US:
Give! Visit our Dressember page and make a donation. It's that simple and no sum is too small. Truly.
Follow! Be sure to follow us on Instagram and our blog throughout the month of December.
Share! Help us spread the word. You can do this by sharing our social media posts or links to our Dressember fundraising page.
Taz Morgan, MA, is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, IMF #99714, working under the supervision of Vanessa Spooner, PsyD. She has trained in Depth-oriented psychotherapy and works with adolescents, adults, and couples.
Maria Elena Marquez, MA, is a bilingual Spanish-English Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, IMF #103470, working under the supervision of Michelle Harwell, PsyD, LMFT. As an art therapist, Maria is passionate about helping clients unravel complex cultural beliefs and family pressures through the use of expressive art.