Shaving for Solidarity: Anikka Reinertson
During this time of year, people are preparing for the holiday season. They bring out their big winter coats, shop the best department store sales, and whip up the family favorite pumpkin pie recipe. Giving thanks during this time of year is traditional for almost everyone. However, it’s not the only thing in need of preparation.
As the nights get colder and the fall breeze moves in, so does the Dressember challenge. People from all over are preparing for a month-long fundraiser to stand against injustice and advocate for freedom. For these people, each day in December is a new day to raise awareness about people trapped in slavery.
Some people will choose to sport a tie each day, and many will flaunt a dress. But seldom do you find someone willing to do the extreme, like shaving off their hair.
For Anikka Reinertson, your not-so-typical California Baptist University student, that was the perfect idea.
By December 15th, she hoped to have raised $500. She achieved her fundraising goal days before the goal date, and proceeded to say goodbye to her long brown locks.
The buzz about her newfound challenge traveled across the CBU campus. “I heard Anikka is shaving her hair off,” one person said. “That’s so cool, but I could never do that,” another said. Those who knew about Reinertson’s Dressember plans supported her through and through. However, some weren’t so sure where her confidence originated.
It all started during her freshman year at an International Justice Mission (IJM) campus chapter meeting in which Reinertson first heard of the Dressember challenge. In her first Dressember attempt, she wore a dress for the 31 days of December. Her second year, she convinced her family and friends to get on board. Now a college junior, Reinertson wants this year to be different. She wants to see an even greater impact.
After a conversation with Blythe Hill, the CEO and Founder of Dressember, at this year’s LIBERATE conference in Texas, and after a little deep digging, Reinertson made the decision to let go of her hair.
“I did research and found that some pimps will threaten to shave the heads of their victims,” Reinertson says. “For some victims, their hair might be the only thing they feel ownership of. So hair becomes a big intimidation. For all the girls facing this while being stuck in slavery, shaving my head is a way to stand in solidarity with those forced to shave theirs.”
She originally posted to social media to share the beginning of her journey. Down the road, she invited a few friends to share a part in removing her hair as an incentive to helping her reach the fundraising goal. Her hope was that they, too, would find their advocacy niche.
“I’m not trying to inspire people to shave their heads but rather inspire them to do something they wouldn’t normally do for a bigger cause.”
Aside from advocating to bring an end to slavery, Reinertson is also excited that her advocacy can be used to help young girls form more positive understandings about the uniqueness of their image.
“As a girl, it’s cool that I can break social norms of having to have hair,” she says. “It’s cool to see that my main priority is to fight for girls in slavery, but also show that girls don’t need to look a certain way.”
Reinertson’s passion to fight human trafficking has been built not just by an eagerness to see a world without slaves, but also a continual intentionality as an advocate; she’s putting action to her words. With great action, come great results. Reinertson is already making a huge difference by simply engaging in something radical.
“Supporting Dressember is such an easy way to be involved once you learn about injustice and the vastness of slavery around the world,” she says. “If you hear that and get that, why wouldn’t you want to do something about it?”
So, there it is. Why wouldn’t people want to use this new season to prepare for something bigger than themselves? Wearing a dress or a tie is simple, but the act of raising awareness with a shaved head goes a long way.
It is not too late to be a part of the impact!
Right now, thousands of people around the world are taking on the creative challenge of wearing a dress or tie in the month of December. The reason? To bring freedom to the 40+ million around the world still trapped in slavery. Your donation or participation in Dressember 2018 is part of a movement to end human trafficking for good.
About the Author
Danyella Wilder is a senior at California Baptist University studying Journalism and New Media with two minors in Public Relations and Global Justice. She's thrilled to work alongside Dressember in their advocacy to spread awareness about modern-day slavery. Danyella is also an admirer of travel, an online-shopping enthusiast, and she loves going to the beach just as long as she has a great book in hand.