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Women Are

What is Dressember?

What is Dressember?

Brighid Quinn wearing her “Women are Resilient” t-shirt inspired by one of our Instagram followers! Thank you @raejus!  Photo by  Even Keel Imagery  -  Miriam Brummel .

Brighid Quinn wearing her “Women are Resilient” t-shirt inspired by one of our Instagram followers! Thank you @raejus!

Photo by Even Keel Imagery - Miriam Brummel.

There’s a common misconception that human trafficking happens “somewhere else” or “overseas.” According to Annalisa Enrile, clinical associate professor in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work: “Human trafficking occurs in every country—even in first-world countries such as the United States.” In fact, in 2017, 26,557 calls were answered by the National Human Trafficking Hotline (U.S.). We’ve also learned that Los Angeles has been identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) as one of the thirteen high intensity hubs for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth (CSECY).

It surely can be overwhelming to come across such alarming statistics. Blythe Hill, the founder of Dressember, is no stranger to that feeling when you became passionate about making waves and yet simultaneously reminded of your limitations. In an interview with Starfish Project, Hill remarked that she first learned about human trafficking as a teenager, and “For years, I felt a sense of personal urgency to do something but I also felt powerless. I’m not a cop, a lawyer, a social worker, or a psychologist….I felt helpless. Then, as Dressember grew, I felt compelled to use it as a way to engage in the fight.”

So, what is Dressember?

Dressember is a month-long campaign where people wear dresses or ties/bow ties every day in December as a way to raise awareness and money for human trafficking programs.

It started in 2009 as a personal style challenge with no cause or fundraising element to it. As it grew, and Hill saw people she didn’t even know personally who wanted to join in, she realized it was a good idea and started dreaming about using it as a way to bring attention to the issue of human trafficking. In 2013, Hill aligned Dressember with its first grant partner, International Justice Mission (IJM), and set what felt like an ambitious goal of $25,000. They hit that goal on day 3, and then proceeded to raise over $165,000. Since then, Dressember has extended it reach and now partners with 12 organizations, including IJM, A21, CAST Los Angeles, Love146, Saving Innocence, and Olive Crest, that are leading the charge in their respective areas of expertise to end modern-day slavery.

Since 2016, the team at Michelle Harwell Therapy have advocated for Dressember while putting their own creative spin on it. Women and girls historically have been the most vulnerable to human trafficking, and we have wanted to draw attention to this fact by challenging stale, one-dimensional notions and images of femininity. This year is no different except we’ve raised the bar for our fundraising goal — setting it to $6,719, which will fund a full rescue operation to bring victims safely into freedom and begin the process of recovery and restoration.

It’s incredible how far a small donation can go - contributions in the range between $20 and $50 can secure a survivor with vital services, such as a night in a shelter, a care package, or a therapy session.

Will you consider standing with us?


-Brighid Quinn, Marketing Intern at MHT


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. We will be documenting our fierce fashion choices but our deepest intention is to empower and educate.

Share!  Help us spread the word. You can do this by sharing our social media posts or links to our Dressember fundraising campaign page.

Women are Weird

Women are Weird

We’re a little too alive to be contained by some static definition!

What does it mean to be a woman? That question will never be fully answered, and I like that. Of course, women share certain experiences, and on the whole, some common traits that we've come to label as "feminine." But unique or unusual experiences and traits spring out of us as well. We're a little too alive to be contained by some static definition!

I love that about being a woman. If there is a definition to what it means to be a woman, it's constantly being further defined or even redefined. And I think it's pretty cool to be part of that defining process. I am grateful for the legacy of women who've gone before me and were willing to be weird enough that they challenged our definition of womanhood. They stretched out the definition to give us a bit more room to roam about and find our potential. When they were willing to be weird ladies, they made it a little easier for us to be weird too. Thanks weird women. What a delightful bunch of marbles we all are!


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. We will be documenting our fierce fashion choices but our deepest intention is to empower and educate.

Share!  Help us spread the word. You can do this by sharing our social media posts or links to our Dressember fundraising campaign page.


Allison (Allie) Ramsey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Therapist. Allie works with individuals on a broad range of issues, including anxiety, depression, relational challenges, faith integration, divorce, and aging. 

Women Are Healers

Women Are Healers

...What has most shaped me as a woman is the way my relationships with other women have healed me.

As I scroll through the catalogue of my experiences both as a woman and as a recipient of love and friendship from other women, I am reminded of how many descriptors women embody. We are creative, resourceful, wise, wild, deep. And we wear so many hats. We have thriving careers, bear children, foster friendships, build businesses, care for the home — yes, sometimes overextending ourselves to show up for and love others. But what has most shaped me as a woman is the way my relationships with other women have healed me. The turning toward me in times of distress and offering care and compassion. The deep listening. The calming “coos” and soft body language. The gentle patience while I find the answers for myself.

Women are healers. I know that to be true deep in my bones. And I believe women are the antidote to the overly masculinized culture that has forced a broken, patriarchal system on us all.

I think of the places I work - MHT and Alive and Well Women – both with powerful women at the helm who use their strengths to lift others. These women are willing to collaborate and dialogue with their employees rather than prescribe solutions. They do not manage with absolute control or over-emphasize productivity, but instead empower employees to find balance in work life and soul life. They have cultivated cultures that nourish development and health.

It is not to say that men can’t also lead in this way, but I believe it is a mode of leadership that is perhaps archetypally connected to the feminine. Our history of men in the seats of power and the attendant systemic oppression of women seems to bear testament to this. However, the impact of women in my life and this powerful changing of the tide that I have been fortunate to witness in my young adult years has taught me to embrace the strength of my femininity and has given me hope for a different way.

Women are HEALERS.


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. We will be documenting our fierce fashion choices but our deepest intention is to empower and educate.

Share!  Help us spread the word. You can do this by sharing our social media posts or links to our Dressember fundraising campaign page.


Lauren Joy Furutani, MA, LMFT, helps individuals and families of all ethnic and faith backgrounds maneuver through the unexpected turns in life.

Women are Witness

Women are Witness

Witnessing is a powerful act to bring into the world. Whether it is vocal and public or even, as I see it, private and silent, witnessing to the experience of others is a way of shining a light on what has been unseen and calling to account those responsible.

Witnessing is a powerful act to bring into the world. Whether it is vocal and public or even, as I see it, private and silent, witnessing to the experience of others is a way of shining a light on what has been unseen and calling to account those responsible. When we as women witness each other’s experiences, we stand up to the violence and aggression that women and girls experience the world over. We honor the suffering that we see by holding it in mind with compassion and demanding justice for those who have been wronged.

I see witnessing as a role of sorts, one that we can step into whenever there is cause and one in which we can be certain that our individual mind, heart, and voice has meaning and significance. If we were to look down on the earth from above, imagine that everyone who witnesses to the abuses and misuses of power here was one tiny speck of light in a sea of dark. Tiny or not, you would see them. And even if each speck were unaware of the others around it, still, the more people witnessing to the wrongs of the world, the more light there would be.

For victims of trafficking, there is mostly no justice, mostly no recourse, mostly no rescue. The cruel economics of this particular chain of supply and demand make the problem seem intractable. Even so, I take refuge in the thought that no one can take away our witness. I am encouraged by all the voices around me this December raising awareness of this issue and calling for action. Will you join us? This month, wear a dress or a tie every day to bear witness.


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. We will be documenting our fierce fashion choices but our deepest intention is to empower and educate.

Share!  Help us spread the word. You can do this by sharing our social media posts or links to our Dressember fundraising campaign page.


Monica Green, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist, PSY 27391, specializing in depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship issues and psychological aspects of chronic health conditions.

Here We Are

Here We Are

Photos by  Even Keel Imagery
I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.
— Maya Angelou

Hello, Dressember. We have arrived.

Every year the women of MHT band together to use our feminine power and fashionable prowess to raise awareness and funds for the Dressember Foundation and for issues impacting the inherent dignity of women, specifically, women vulnerable to sexual exploitation and trafficking. This year we decided to expand our impact and our fundraising goal. We wanted to dig even deeper; to utilize our creative energy, personal stories and style, to inspire you, educate you, and possibly move you to give.

Given that this has been both a difficult and empowering year for women, we wanted to use our creativity, presence, and voice to continue to challenge the boundaries of how women are defined. Enter MHT's Women Are campaign. In December, as we are raising money for the Dressember Foundation, you will hear from each our clinicians on just what they think WOMEN ARE.

In addition, our team has upped our fundraising goal to $6000. I'm sweating just thinking about it. But then again, with this group of mighty women, what's to fear? Follow along and help us smash our goals!

Why?

Because the issue of human and sex trafficking is both a pervasive and deeply local issue. California and specifically, Los Angeles County, houses the largest foster care system in the US. In 2012, studies estimate that between 50 and 80 percent of commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) in California are or were formally involved with the child welfare system. 58% of 72 sexually trafficked girls in Los Angeles County’s STARS Court in 2012 were foster care kids. This is an issue deeply personal to me as adoptive parent, as a foster/adoption professional, and as a female business owner in Los Angeles. I'm grateful to be teaming with the strong-minded women of MHT to do something about it.

Here's how you can participate:

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. Of course, we will be documenting our fierce fashion choices but our deepest intention is to empower and educate. We will be resurrecting our #badasswomenofhistory series on Instagram. We are also starting a new series called “Women Are” where you will hear from some of our therapists who participated in a photo shoot embodying the statement "Women Are...". Personally, I found this to be such a deeply intimate and inspiring project to work on with my team. We really hope you enjoy.

Share!  Help us spread the word. You can do this by sharing our social media posts or links to our Dressember fundraising campaign page.

Here’s to another year of fierce fashion and deep musings from badass women getting the job done. Let’s do this!

-Michelle


Michelle Harwell, PsyD, LMFT is an expert trainer, respected speaker, and licensed therapist in trauma and attachment. She is noted for her specialization in areas of development, attachment, trauma, and neuroscience, and her ability to communicate complex topics with clarity and humor.