Day Sixteen: Emily Flanagan (Seattle, WA)
I love my morning coffee and cozy blankets. I live my life in scarves and will often go out of my way for the things that bring me the warm fuzzies, like visiting old restaurants or wandering my favorite bookstores. I love my comfort.
But I also avert my eyes when I’m at a stoplight and a stranger is holding a sign on the corner. And I’ll politely excuse myself when a woman at church begins to share stories from her past. I avoid tough conversations and plug my ears when I hear news that I don’t like. I love my comfort.
When I first heard about Dressember a few years ago, I didn’t get it. How can simply wearing a dress solve an issue as big as human trafficking? The answer is: it doesn’t.
What I mean is – simply wearing the dress doesn’t really do anything. Whether there’s two or two hundred thousand women wearing dresses throughout the month of December, the act itself makes a statement but does not bring about change. When a close friend asked me to join her in this movement, I struggled with saying “yes.” How would my participation change anything? Besides, I live in my blue jeans. And I love my comfort.
I went through my usual excuses of why I shouldn’t participate. I thought about blaming work and saying that it would be weird wearing a dress every day to the office. I thought about politely avoiding responding until it was “too late” to join in. To be honest, I can’t admit to having this big, convicting moment that led me to participate in Dressember this year. Instead of making excuses, I made a commitment to wear a dress every day in December and it has challenged me in ways I couldn’t imagine.
I’m not perfect at this whole activism thing. Out of the 16 days in December, so far I’ve worn pants twice and to be honest I probably will again. But for me the act of putting on a skirt most mornings is not about meeting a personal goal of wearing a dress every day. It’s about entering into someone else’s pain by willingly making myself uncomfortable if only for 8+ hours a day.
There are people like you and I who are being torn from their homes and families and sold into sexual and labor intensive slavery. There are daughters and sons who are stripped of their innate, God-given value for the “benefit” of those willing to pay a price to use them. I believe that the freedom to choose is a beautiful gift of being human, and it deeply saddens me that there are industries that rip that freedom away from people just to make a dollar.
I pull on my stockings because there are people who live in uncertain, far more uncomfortable conditions than I live in and I want to acknowledge that this pain is real. When people who know me ask why I’m “so dressed up,” it’s sparked conversations and opened others’ eyes to the very real fact that many things in our world are not okay and I’m not okay with that. Wearing a skirt is a small way to be a freedom warrior for the sake of restoring people their worth. While it pales in comparison to the hurt that trafficking victims face everyday, it’s a way for me to be challenged to set aside my own comfort, pray for them, and hope for change.
I choose to be uncomfortable because I believe that everyone is worthy of love, and justice is just love in action.
To donate to our team page to support IJM and A21, two organizations fighting against slavery and injustice everyday, please click here.