Through the Spyglass


Dressember: Using Social Media to Promote Freedom for Women

You've probably heard of Movember, a movement to raise money for men's health through sponsorships by growing mustaches in November. But perhaps you can't grow a mustache for one reason or another, and yet wish that you could participate in a cause promoting the value of life in a fun way. 

Enter Dressember, a cause focused on raising money to free women trapped in slavery, often including sex trafficking. Those participating in Dressember raise awareness by wearing dresses throughout the month of December, and funds raised go to the International Justice Mission. According to the Dressember website:

“Dressember uses fashion to advocate for women who’ve been exploited for their femininity. As women take on the creative challenge of wearing a dress for the 31 days of December, they are advocating for the inherent dignity of all women.

Dressember exists to inspire and empower a global community of like-minded women who are locking arms to face one of the greatest injustices of our time.

The heart of Dressember is freedom—that every woman has the right to live a vibrant and autonomous life.”

I've been moved by Dressember personally as I've watched it grow over the last year with increasing enthusiasm. It's powered by individuals who are creative and committed to something bigger than themselves. 

Furthermore, this organization has effectively used digital media to grow the campaign in powerful ways. Brands can learn from Dressember in a few ways:

1. Showcase participants

One primary element of the campaign is how it showcases participants. Look at Dressember’s Instagram account and you'll see the feed overflowing with fashionable or simply creative clothing combinations as women try to get their dress collection to stretch throughout the month. Few women have 31 dresses, especially ones they can wear in the extreme weather conditions of December!

Dressember Instagram Dressember Instagram

2. Share stories with meaning

Dressember is all about freeing women from slavery, and it presents heartwarming stories of liberation online. These stories encourage participants, reminding them that it's not about the dresses, but about the girls and women who are granted freedom through these efforts.

3. Sponsor giveaways

What is a fun online campaign without giveaways? Dressember has been doing a great job of partnering with like-minded groups and utilizing those partnerships to provide giveaways to participants. The giveaways are another tool to inspire and encourage online engagement. Probably not many people join the campaign because of the giveaways, but the giveaways get them talking and sharing online, thus furthering the reach of the cause.

4. Have a deadline

Dressember is for the month of December only. Most of the communication for the cause occurs during this month, and fundraising goals are set for this month alone. That inspires people to act quickly rather than wait around for a more convenient time. It's also refreshing to have a reason to take your focus off yourself during a time of year generally consumed by spending money on things that don't matter quite as much as freedom.

I hope you'll check out Dressember and consider participating next year! And men, you can participate as well! You can sponsor a woman or, as some men have done, "dress up" throughout the month wearing a tie. And if you reach your financial goal at the end, perhaps you’ll even consider wearing a dress! Just saying...