It started as "personal style challenge" for the Los Angeles-based trend-forcasting professional. Taking advantage of the warm southern California weather, Blythe Hill decided to see if she could wear a dress or skirt every day the entire month of December. She named the campaign "Dressember."
That was in 2009. In her fifth year of the campaign, taking a cue from the male-facial hair growing campaign "Movember," Hill decided to expand the movement beyond its identity as a fashion test and turn it into a way to support the Christian anti-sex trafficking organization, International Justice Mission (IJM). Those who wanted to join would commit to wearing a dress every day and setting a fundraising goal for the cause.
Hill credited her faith with playing a role in her decision to add a cause to her fashion movement.
"I'm a Christian and that informs everything that I do," Hill told The Christian Post. "It informed my decision to align Dressember with a cause at all. This has been a fun personal style challenge for the last four years, and about two years ago I started dreaming of aligning with a cause."
Thus far, Hill's been pleasantly surprised by its success. Dressember has already raised $70,000 among the United States, Canada and Australia campaigns, and has 1,200 registered participants who span 32 countries in six continents.
"It's going really well; it's honestly beyond what I had allowed myself to hope it could be," Hill said, crediting IJM's assistance in lending visibility and a platform to the campaign.
"We've cross-promoted and they have a much larger audience than we do at this point, so it's been really helpful that anytime they post anything we get a new surge of registrants," she added.
Although IJM is a faith-based organization, Hill said she hopes people of all backgrounds consider participating in Dressember and come together to fight sex-trafficking.
"Dressember isn't explicitly biblical or outwardly Christian--at this point I want to be as inclusive as possible," said Hill, who believes that trafficking is "one of the greatest injustices of the time."
To that end, Hill also believes in the importance of merely bringing awareness to the issue.
"A lot of people have no idea how huge the problem is, even in the United States. A lot of people don't understand that human trafficking happens in every city of the world," said Hill.
As the movement has grown, Hill has also found it rewarding to interact with the community of women participating in Dressember.
"I love hearing from women who never wear dresses who decide to participate. This year, aligning it with IJM, there's a lot of women who don't like dresses but love IJM and they are taking the challenge upon themselves," said Hill.
"It's really interesting hearing women talk about feeling like they have reclaimed a sense of femininity or freedom and maybe [they'll say] 'I'll never wear a dress again, or not until next Dressember, but this was fun and I know that I had in me and there's something kind-of powerful about wearing a dress,'" said Hill.