Advocate Stories: Chynna Terrell
When I was 13, I challenged myself to let go of my daily attachment to my flat iron for 8 weeks. When I was 16, I said “so long!” to red meat and haven’t looked back. When I was 18, I decided to give up the salty, fried goodness of french fries for a whole year, just to see if I could do it.
If you know me long enough, eventually I’ll dive into another lifestyle challenge of my own whimsy. I often find myself eager to test my willpower but on rare occasions, it’s more than that. Sometimes challenges find me, and I see, read or hear something that gives me pause and forces me to evaluate my role in the world outside myself.
Dressember falls into the latter category, and so, when I was 20, I said “yes” to the unique fashion challenge that is so much bigger than a dress.
By the time I discovered that the motivation behind Dressember was fighting human trafficking around the world, I already had a decent bit of education about the issue through my campus ministry and socially conscious friends.
Previously, I had spent so much time asking, “How do I respond to this information? What is my role in this fight? Do I switch majors or maybe completely change my life trajectory to jump into the thick of things?” and similar questions. However, participating in such a visually striking movement as Dressember and fundraising for justice organizations like International Justice Mission and A21 now seemed like very realistic responses with attainable goals for the average Jane, for someone like me.
Yet as December arrived, I still hadn’t set up a fundraising page. As per my usual indecisive self, I kept up an internal back-and-forth monologue, concerned with the social risk of asking for donations in person and online; or with the possible naivete of setting too lofty a goal and the possible guilt of setting one too meager; or even with the necessity of wearing summer colors in the winter.
Deep down, though, I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with solely completing the challenge this time. All the things I feared were worth the push to do my part in freeing modern-day slaves, some of whom are young women just like me.
I compromised with myself, setting my individual, first-year goal of a humble $250 and donating the first $10 as an example...and boy did my family and friends (and THEIR families and friends) deliver! I hit my target in under three weeks, and by the end of the campaign, I had raised almost $750, just shy of three times the goal I wasn’t sure I could fulfill.
If you’re on the fence about participating, remember that you are one of 6000+ advocates and countless others who are learning, giving, and sharing with the unified aim of pursuing justice in our world! I had countless conversations with people about my campaign that simply began because they said I looked nice, or asked if I was freezing in my dress, or had noticed my attire shift. The Dressember team has done a fantastic job of sharing ways to make the challenge less daunting and more fun, too!
" I had spent so much time asking, “How do I respond to this information? What is my role in this fight? "
It does take intention. Maybe you have to buy a new pair (or two, or three) of warm, fleece-lined leggings to keep cozy under your dresses. You’ll possibly need to pick out your outfits for the week in advance and check the weather app more often. Laundry might necessitate more frequent upkeep, and you might be unsure of how to lean into your creative side for dress recycling.
Do not let that stop you.
I’m back for another year because tens of millions of women, men, and children are victims of trafficking. Because the minor discomfort of being cold in a dress is nothing compared to those who have their rights stripped away. I’m back because I stand for the dignity of every human being around the globe, and it is a vile tragedy we are facing.
This is my challenge, again to myself and now to you: Stand in solidarity with victims of trafficking and participate in Dressember, because everyone has the power to make a difference. It just might take a little willpower and a dress.
About the Author
Chynna Terrell is an ENFJ studying English Literature at the University of Oklahoma (boomer!). Aside from trying not to think about being a senior, she is president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and is excited to participate again and write for Dressember. And, why yes, she would love to have you over for a hot cup of tea, a puzzle, and good conversation.