Claire Seaton wore the same dress every day this past October. In fact, the high school senior has done so for the past three Octobers.
The “October Dress Project,” the invention of two students at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., is a campaign to encourage young women to be less consumer-driven and more resourceful in how they dress. Seaton, daughter of teaching elder Scott Seaton of Emmanuel Presbyterian (Arlington, Va.), first decided to participate in the project as a sophomore.
“Every morning I would look in my closet and there would be all these clothes, but I felt like I had nothing to wear because they weren’t new and not necessarily the latest trends,” Seaton explained. “[The project made me] focus on being happy with the things I had — being content with shopping in my own closet.”
This October, the project became much more than simply an exercise in contentment. It became a platform for advocacy.
After classmates asked her why she was wearing the same dress so many days in a row, Seaton took the opportunity to tell them about women around the world who have only one dress to wear, particularly those who are victims of sex trafficking.
With several friends, Seaton started a club at her high school called Stopping Trafficking and Helping the Powerless. Through the club, they began forming relationships with various anti-trafficking groups such as International Justice Mission. They organized a booth at a school bazaar to sell handicrafts from Freeset and began investigating ways to volunteer with Polaris Project.
“I hate that trafficking exists,” Seaton wrote on her blog. “I hate that it’s simply not on enough peoples’ radars. I hate that people can get away with enslaving people, with kidnapping girls and selling their bodies for sex, and countless other ways of trafficking people. And I want to do all I can to stop it, because even a little bit is more than nothing.”
Wearing the same dress for 31 days seems a small price to pay. Further, it has given her a fuller insight into true beauty.
“No matter how hard you try to make yourself look beautiful on the outside … when you’re wearing the same dress every day, you have to work hard. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to make yourself beautiful for the world. It’s not beauty for the world that matters, but beauty for God and letting God’s light shine through.”
During the past three years, she’s gotten used to the obvious question: “Do I wash it? Of course I do!”