Friday, April 27, 2012

Denim Day

I found out about Denim Day earlier this month when Cindy of Diva Designer Consignment posted information about it on the Listserv that we use for the Old Town Boutique District.  Cindy told us that the City of Alexandria had approved the wearing of denim that day for their employees as part of the initiative coming from the Department of Community and Human Services.  Since I am always passionate about drawing attention to women's issues and supporting local initiatives, I contacted the City to learn more.

I was delighted when I received contact back from the City and they offered to not only allow me to display items from the Messages of Hope initiative (more on this in a moment) but also to hand out information related to changing attitudes about sexual assault and protecting oneself from assault.  The representative dropped off the items on Saturday, April 21st so I was ready to go!

First, a little history.  In 1999 the Italian High Court overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing tight jeans at the time of the assault.  The justices stated that the victim must have helped her attacker remove her jeans, from which they inferred consent.  People all around the world were outraged. Wearing jeans on this anniversary (April 25th) became an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual violence.  

As part of the initiative, The Messages of Hope display was created for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April) and is dedicated to survivors of sexual assault.  The jeans that are part of this display are decorated by survivors and supports in the prevention of Sexual Assault to bring messages of HOPE:

- HOPE that every survivor will feel supported
- HOPE that every person will get involved and have the strength and courage to speak out when witnessing acts of violence
- HOPE and faith that the community will come together to prevent sexual assaults
- HOPE that there will be a culture change around sexual violence

Here is a picture of one of the items I had on display:

I had one of the decorated denim items hanging on the door and the other on the front of the first rack as you walk into the store.

The information that the City provided for handout was really interesting.  The handout on "Keep Yourself Safe" was especially educational.  Although some was common sense, there were several suggestions that I had not considered previously.  

I also offered 10% off the store's primary jean label - Red Engine Jeans - in observance of the day.  And of course I was wearing jeans!  The day got quite a bit of press in Los Angeles and throughout California.  And there were formal Denim Day observances in all 50 states and a number of countries around the world!

Having learned about this event this year, I look forward to making it even bigger next year!

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