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It’s bigger than a dress!

For the month of December I will be participating in Dressember because I believe in everyday advocacy. By wearing a little black dress for 31 days  I am raising awareness and funds for the millions of abused women and girls across the globe. The little black dress I am wearing (worn in rotation with another LBD I already owned) is made by and overcomer of sex trafficking who through Elegantees has been provided with secure source of income that reinforces independence, a healthy self image, and confidence that restores lives. You can sponsor my 31 day dress wearing mission to fight enforced labour and human trafficking by donating to the Dressember fundraiser page. The proceeds of the month long fundraiser support the work done by A21 and The International Justice Mission (IJM) who work to fight human trafficking and injustices against the poor on all levels, from top down policy work to bottom up rescues and rehabilitation of victims. Your dollar could help rescue children as young as two years old from cyber sex trafficking, as seen in this recent success story from the IJM. Please give even if you can only spare a dollar, every bit counts!

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Summer Days

As the year comes to a close and the summer heat settles itself for the long hot months ahead the Dressember challenge has becoming increasingly difficult. Being busy with end of year celebrations and deadlines has made for a tricky little time when combined with regular ’tis the season’ blog posting, charity auction listings and correspondence, and keeping up to date with social media. I took a mental health day yesterday and went to the beach to read a book. It was well and truly the best decision I have made all month. Very pleased to announce that the Dressember fundraising mission has now hit $500 AUD. It doesn’t look like much in USD but measuring it in ‘real’ Aussie Dollar terms makes me proud of all of our hard work! Thank you to all who have donated so far and for those who will continue to donate as the month rolls to a close.

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Wear it well.

Turns out the Dressember dress has a few fans. It’s not commonplace to go around in summer on the Sunshine Coast in a little black dress so I have been attracting a bit of attention. The farmers markets on Sunday were full of compliments (turquoise kimono outfit) with everything from shoe appreciation to my regular farmer asking me if I was ‘incognito’ as he did’t recognise me in the hat sunnies and dress (I would likely be in denim shorts and a vintage blouse normally). A friend who I hadn’t seen in ages assumed I had a new job in retail as I used to wear a LBD most of the time when I worked in jewellery sales. Kimonos has been a fun way to change up the look of my LBD but I will have to admit that they don’t stay on long. It’s just way too hot. So mostly I’ve been getting about in just the LBD and a few alternating accessories.  

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Outfit Wrap Up.

Lots of thrifted accessories here! Outfit one has a thrifted belt and bag, two has shoes, belt, and bag, and three has a thrifted kimono and bag. The kimono in picture number one is something I picked up online from Spell with a gift card I was given by a friend. I have a few items from Spell because I love their designs but have been avoiding them since they failed to answer the question ‘Who Made My Clothes’ during Fashion Revolution Month despite marketing them as ‘made with love’.

While I occasionally get second hand or thrifted shoes I find I never seem to wear them as often as the shoes that I have purchased new. While there have been some serious secondhand winners in the distant past my penchant for quality made leather boots rarely results in a thrifted find nowadays. Thrift stores across the country have been inundated with poorly made fast fashion footwear that come unstuck, unglued or start to peel within a matter of weeks. As soon as they look shabby they are passed on to charity shops who have to try to get rid of them mindfully or chuck them to landfill. While footwear may feel like a disposable item as it’s something that wear out much faster than clothing or bags, it doesn’t have to be. A well made pair of shoes can last more than a decade if you take the time to care for them. The boots in pictures one and three are my all time favourite and having been re-heeled twice over they are looking like they might need another visit to the shoe doctor again soon. I will revive them for as long as I can! Buying right the first time and shopping for quality may cost more to begin with but you will love it for much longer. Cheap shoes come and go like short flings, quality is a long term romance!

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Christmas time is a busy time!

Well we are just a couple of sleeps from Christmas and I couldn’t be happier that it’s nearly over. I love writing about Christmas and the holiday ‘silly season’ as it is such an interesting consumer phenomena. It’s odd to think that a holiday that was historically for religious purposes (how far back you look will determine what religious purposes the holiday was for) has evolved to the weird place that it is at now. Here in Australia it have become a holiday to celebrate shopping and eating. Both of which you do for and with your family. We are given a public holiday to celebrate. Those who work in white collar jobs are given time off for the Christmas and New Year period and for the majority of workers (service staff) Christmas is the hardest slog of the whole year. As someone who has worked in the service sector for many holiday periods I would have to say that the Christmas rush brings out the worst in even the kindest of people. The pressure of the 25th deadline and the need to be organised and get gifts ‘just right’ can make people really anxious and angry. Christmas day is a joy for children who marvel at their gifts, indulge in food, and are showered in attention by family. For the adults it usually means long drives, traffic jams, way too many dishes to wash, and unsatisfied family members (because no matter where you celebrate the day there will be at least one person who will complain you didn’t spend it at their house). Fortunately there are some good aspects to Christmas if you make it your own. I’ve enjoyed spending it quietly with my Mr. and pooch the last few years and tend to travel south to visit family when the tinsel settles, the cost of travel decreases and emotions plateau. This year we have some relatives who have moved about and hour and a half from where we live and we will be meeting them for a lunchtime bbq at the beach at the halfway point between our homes.

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Dressember Story Sharing.

As part of the Dressember mission I am sent through these harrowing but inspiring stories from the two charities that we are fundraising for. While it’s difficult to hear these tales it’s important to be aware of them as they happen every single day across the globe to millions of people. Here is Clarisa’s story.

Clarisa* was rescued from sexual exploitation in one of IJM’s first-ever cases in the Dominican Republic. The team first met her in October 2014, and she shared how she had been assaulted by one man despite her resistance—and then how he sold her to another man, who assaulted her again. Both suspects threatened to hurt Clarisa or her family if she dared to tell anyone. Clarisa is one of nine siblings, raised in a poor and very dangerous neighborhood in Santo Domingo, the capital city. So many girls are left vulnerable to abuse here, but Clarisa even more so. She’s 14 but, due to a developmental disability, Clarisa experiences the world much like a 6-year-old does. Clarisa’s innocence made her easy prey for a man who targeted children in this slum. This man cornered her and assaulted her—perhaps many times over the course of a year—and then allegedly sold her to a friend. IJM later learned he has a reputation for pimping young girls, and we have no idea what other plans he was making to profit from Clarisa’s abuse.

Her mother, Alma,* was deeply hurt and confused as she watched her sweet, helpful daughter become angry and aloof. Clarisa would disappear for days at a time out of fear, and Alma had no idea why. When she discovered the horrifying reason, Alma ran to authorities, desperate for help. IJM partnered with local anti-trafficking police to arrest these abusers just days later. This is certainly a victory—but the case is not over yet. The days immediately following a rescue can be some of the most dangerous for a girl like Clarisa. If released on bail, these dangerous men could have easily found Clarisa’s family and exacted revenge. IJM worked with police for 48 hectic hours to gather the evidence needed to keep them in custody, where they remain today. (Read more about the arrest here)

For the first time in her life, Clarisa is going to school and getting the medical care she needs. She celebrated her birthday this summer surrounded by the staff at aftercare home as well as her mother and IJM social worker.  “Not only was Clarisa rescued, but her mother is now at peace,” explains IJM’s casework director Jessica, “Though it is painful for her to say goodbye at the center, she encourages her daughter that it is in her best interest that she is there healing. When Clarisa shared with us what she is learning and doing, her mother was smiling proudly.” The story will continue, but each visit with Clarisa brings hope. Jessica says of a recent visit, “When we visited Clarisa this week, she still tells us spontaneous stories, but now these stories are about how she is doing in school. She showed us her notebook and the homework she has done, all with a beautiful smile on her face.”

*A pseudonym

Do you feel shocked, angry or inspired to make change by these types of stories? It can be hard to read about injustices like this but they are common and will continue to occur without public awareness. Share your feelings with us below.