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How The Dressember Challenge Helps Women Take Back Their Lives

Here's how the smallest gesture can offer so much help.

Thirty-one days, 31 dresses, and 31 opportunities to advocate for the inherent dignity of all women.

What started as a fun style challenge, Dressember soon transformed into a month of fundraising for and taking a stand against the worldwide trafficking and exploitation of women. Similar to the male-directed Movember Challenge, the idea is to wear a dress every single day for the entire month.

The Dressember Foundation's website has all the information you need to get involved:

  • Search for people already involved to donate to, register as an individual advocate, or grab a few friends and make a freedom fighting team!
  • Decide on a monetary goal
  • Set up a quick and easy campaign page
  • Share it with your friends, family and, of course, all of your social media followers!

On the outside, Dressember looks just like a solid month of wearing fashionable dresses, but after aligning with International Justice Mission and The A21 Campaign, the cleverly named idea became a movement to help change the lives of women around the globe.

It's estimated that there are more people trapped in slavery today than at any other point in history — between 20 and 36 million — and while that number is overwhelmingly heartbreaking, Dressember gives those, who might not otherwise know how to help, a chance to get involved and make a difference in their everyday lives.

If you are one of those people who feel an urgency to put a stop to these injustices in the world — but you've just never known how to get your foot in the door — we want to encourage you to lean in and go for it! It's totally OK that we're already a week into December. The point of this challenge isn't to be perfect but to join together with thousands of others in making a genuine difference and bringing awareness to an issue that so many turn their backs toward.

"The heart of Dressember is freedom — that every woman has the right to live a vibrant and autonomous life," the site says about their mission. People participating in the challenge from all over the world are proving that statement to be true. Check out some of these awesome women who are showing that a dress can truly change the world!



One of the most common techniques to entrap laborers is through false debts. An owner lures a poor person into slavery by offering a small advance payment for their labor. The owner then ensures it is impossible for the slave to ever repay by inflating the debt owed with exorbitant interest charges, not paying the victim the promised wages and prohibiting him or her from working anywhere else. These false debts can be passed from one generation to the next; we have identified entire families (from grandparents to parents to children) who have been forced to work for years after accepting advance payments as low as $20. (from IJM's website) #itsbiggerthanadress #dressember #dressember2016 #dressemberwithandrea #dressemberdress #iwearelegantees #beecholiveswingdress

A photo posted by Andrea Thiemkey Rishel (@andrearishel) on



#youcandoanythinginadress, like snowboard! ❄️👗 📷: @julia.d.hansen #Dressember

A photo posted by Dressember™ (@dressember) on




Day 5. Meet Tabitha and why she decided to take a stand. . "I am participating in dressember because it's a small way to be a voice to such a large issue. Human trafficking seems like this big, abstract issue, but the truth is that it is very close to home for each one of us. The super bowl is the largest day for sex trafficking in the world; the second largest is duck hunting season in the fall. Both of these events are celebrated in our society. But for many women and men this day is the end of their freedom; something many people never stop to notice. My hope is that by wearing a dress in the middle of a northern Iowa winter, I can start conversations with those around me about the realities of modern day slavery." . #nwc #dressember #nwcdressember

A photo posted by Nwc Dressember (@nwcdressember) on


Even men and those who don't identify as female are getting in on the action by wearing a tie or bow tie!



#day6 #dressember #itsbiggerthanadress #itsbiggerthanatie #creativityfordignity #lookitup #seewhy

A photo posted by Nathaniel McClain (@mcclainnathaniel) on

Hannah Marsh

Hannah is a Texas-born, Iowa-raised alumna of Iowa State University. When not writing trending content across several Meredith sites, she enjoys all things fitness-related, binge-watching "Whose Line is it Anyway" episodes and fully embracing her self-diagnosed peanut butter addiction.

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