Fashion is one of the sharpest, most immediate ways an individual can express him or herself to other people.
Whether it’s the length of one’s skirt or the fabric of one’s jeans, the color of one’s top or the pattern of one’s bag, what you wear speaks monumentally about who you are or what you want to come across as.
But we often forget that there are millions out there who don’t even have the freedom to utilize this form of expression. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Do these numbers astound you? Do they make you shudder knowing how quickly and easily your freedom can be taken away from you in an instant?
The reminder was made clear in a stylish way on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 at the second annual Freedom and Fashion show held at Newsong Church in Irvine, Calif. More than 1,300 people were in attendance for the fashion show and trade booths.
Each of the designers and merchandises on display at the event were specially selected not only for their beauty but also for their small and large-scale function to do good for humanity.
The show itself was educational and entertaining with Style host and Extra correspondent Jeannie Mai emcee-ing for the night. Mai talks about her own brush with human trafficking, recounting her discovery of her own cousin selling her body in Vietnam. Mai conversed with other women working in the brothels and discovered that, “after talking with them about their hair and their clothes … I actually realized that I had two major things in common with every single woman and child I spoke with … They all have a dream to have a future … and they all wanted to be loved. Even if it comes from a wallet, they needed to be loved.”
And this love was clearly seen on stage, from stellar performances by the soulful Esna Yoon and Dr. E, a professor from Ohio and survivor of sex-trafficking to the splashy designer intro videos to the jubilant models gliding down the v-shaped catwalk.
Designs by Anita Arze, Naem Denim Co., and krochet kids matched nicely with wares from LiNK, TOMS and Kristinit and more. It was hard to imagine that all the people who put the show together were paid not a single cent for their labor and time because the quality of the show was just so good. I can never watch a fancy couture show the same way again.
Freedom and Fashion’s life and soul, founder Bonnie Kim, had no previous with fashion or sex trafficking. She was just a concerned individual who, through prayer, found her calling in raising awareness to this near-invisible issue. Kim explains,
“I know sex sells here, but it creates a lot of pain … Sex has been totally misrepresented in today’s society. Because of it I feel like it perpetuates industries like porn and industries like human trafficking. Unless we address these issues, this problem is just going to continue and get worse—women ending up being sex slaves or them feeling the need to, in order to survive, resort to prostitution or being in the trade. And that’s more overseas than here, but many times girls here for the love of someone else they would just easily give themselves away … and it’s not supposed to be like that.”
For the future, Freedom and Fashion has been hosting smaller fashion previews and hopes to acquire a Los Angeles office space, create a division in New York City and in five years, develop an after-school program that teaches young girls the dangers of sex trafficking and how to sew. To find out how you can help, click here.
All photos courtesy of Steven Lam.