You Can Do Anything in a Dress: A Lesson from Fay Fuller
I have often heard it said that the more time two people spend together, the more alike they become. Coworkers gain one another’s sense of humor, spouses take on the other's quirks, and friends learn to see the world through each other's eyes.
I want to be an advocate. I want to have strong convictions, a clear purpose and vision in life. I want to strive for almost unreachable goals, and go forth with passion that leads to perseverance. I want to be an advocate against the injustice in the world, and for those who bear the weight of that injustice.
In order to become the person I would like to be; in order to reach these goals and to persevere I need two things: a community and role models. I would also argue that if you want to be an unshakable advocate, you need those same two things: a community of like-minded advocates and role models doing the work.
Many of you have communities that have supported you in your fight against human trafficking, and some of those supporters have even joined your efforts. Dressember provides a huge online community in which you can combine forces with people from across the country and throughout the world. There are also many role models in each of your communities, and people that you may look up to for their leadership and pioneering actions as they lead the way towards fighting modern slavery. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to another role model.
Mount Rainier stands tall at 14,411 feet elevation in the state of Washington. It’s snowy peaks and elevation level make it a daunting adventure for even the most fierce and experienced climbers. The national park service warns, “Reaching the summit requires a vertical elevation gain of more than 9,000 feet over a distance of eight or more miles. Climbers must be in good physical condition and well prepared.” The mountain was first summited by P. B. Van Trump and a comrade in 1870, and 20 years later the mountain was summited by the first woman under Van Trump’s guidance and inspiration.
Picture this - the year is 1890, when the major professions for women were teaching, writing or homemaking. Women and girls wore bloomers, tall stockings, skirts, high collar blouses with long sleeves, and dresses. Pants were only worn by men and boys. The right to vote for women had not yet been signed into law. It was a very different time indeed, but the country was on the brink of change.
Helping to pioneer that change was Evelyn Fay Fuller, who was the first woman to summit Mt. Rainier. She was not even 21-years-old when she reached the peak on August 10, 1890 - and she did so in a dress. Wearing flannel undergarments and donning a flannel "bloomer suit," loose pants covered by a short dress (a necessary wardrobe for climbing that Fay herself found immodest and unseemly), Fuller summited Mt. Rainier without help from the four fellow male climbers. She reportedly stated, "…if she could not achieve the goal without help she would not deserve to reach it." Not only was Fuller the first known woman to reach the peak of Mt. Rainier, but she was a school teacher, as well as a very successful journalist. From all accounts, Fuller was a force to be reckoned with.
In light of Dressember’s campaign, it was exciting for me to learn about and research Fay Fuller because it was a good example that you really can do anything in a dress, including climbing a 14,000 foot mountain. Fuller went on to lead a life full of adventure and one of the peaks in the Mt. Rainier national park is even named after her.
This is my advice to you - find women in your community to look up to, study the women of history who changed the world; and if it is possible, spend time with them. The more time you spend with them the more you will become like them. I want you to become women who will hold strong convictions, have clear purpose, high reaching goals, and enough passion to turn the world upside-down. Gain motivation, inspiration, passion, ideas, skills and leadership from those who have gone before you. Their wisdom, understanding and teaching is invaluable and will be the most successful part of your journey to advocate for victims of human trafficking, and any other endeavors you pursue in the future.
About the Author
Amanda Brien is a graduate of The Master’s University She enjoys long walks, rain, photography, and all things peppermint. On a daily basis she can be found eating vegan food and talking with her peers about ethical issues.