Survive to Thrive

Share

This is the first of many beautiful gatherings. Thrive. As much as we like your outfits and beautiful faces we love your gracious support and commitment to empowerment even more.

Valencia Woods, actress and fashion consultant”

One of the things I really love about fashion is how the kind of art which interacts with the real world. Here at Fashion360, we have the sustainability issue out now, in August. We get to cover all these ways in which companies like Timberland are turning discarded ocean plastics into shoes, and putting less strain on our global resources. We get to go to parties, meet people, have fun, and grow through new experiences and that’s great, that’s real life.

Real life isn’t always so great. Sometimes, actually, it’s pretty ugly. Sometimes it’s a person you thought you knew, who you thought loved you, beating the shit out of you because they want to feel powerful. Well, fashion plays a part in that world too, and just this past Friday we had a chance to participate in the inaugural dinner in support of Survive to Thrive’s initiative to end domestic violence and support victims of abuse.

“I’ve suffered not so much the physical but the emotional, mental, and financial aspects of it. And, yes, I am fabulous. You can be a sexual being after abuse.

Bonita, organizer of Survive and Thrive”

One of the things which Bonita’s insight makes us realize is that fashion does have a role to play in healing. A particularly nasty side effect of abuse is persistent lack of empowerment, of feeling that you’re not in control of your body or don’t deserve to be. Fashion, by making us aware of ourselves and how we look, puts just a little bit of that control back into our hands. And, when you look as fierce as Bonita did in a triple-layered red dress and matching heels, in gives you a confidence in your own sexuality to look forward, not back.

“Children as young as 12 or 13 who suffer abuse from their so-called boyfriends or girlfriends who don’t even know what’s happening. We’re not saying that we can end the cycle with this generation but we can improve the situation of finding love and building a life together, for everyone.

Bonita”

Teens read about fashion because it’s alluring. It’s not some small nib of the art world which only a few niche curators care about, not even the most haute couture pieces are. It’s visible, and that visibility gives it power. And that power gives it a responsibility.

“I myself am a victim of domestic violence, and ultimately that’s why I’ve decided to do the work that I do. Most of our patients are low income, undocumented victims of violence. We help them every way we can, and we do it holistically. Body. Mind. Soul.

Dr. Jack O’Brien”

My editor and I met a Dr. Jack O’Brien right at the beginning of the event. Another thing he said which stuck out to me was how plastic surgery – far from the image of reckless vanity which popular culture ascribes to it – can be really necessary for victims of domestic abuse, and that it sucks how much of a stigma is attached to it, because it makes his patients feel even more ashamed. He was a really great guy, even if he couldn’t tell the difference between prosecco and cava.

We all wear masks. Many of us are wearing one, or two, or more right now. And it’s when we forget that, and forget why the people who do that feel afraid, that we really stop communicating. Stop asking ladies ‘Why did you stay?’ Ask instead ‘What was wrong with him? What can friends of mine do about similar situations going forward? Where did the strength to leave come from?’

Kendra Turner, Head of S.O.D.A. (Survivors of Domestic Abuse)”

Reflect, for a second, on the daily struggle we all go through, of figuring out what to wear. Think about the anxiety you feel, worrying whether someone will notice something is off. Now multiply that anxiety by a thousand, and imagine feeling it every second you look at the person you share a home with or every time you pass by a mirror, or when you meet friends or family. That might, maybe, give you the tiniest sense of what Chrissy went through. And yet, here she is, with the absolute perfect wardrobe choice of an azure print dress from Hot Societe in Ossinning, and the absolute perfect take:

“I was going to write a speech but I stopped myself because I said I would speak from the heart. But… but it’s hard for me, because this… being here is a dream to me. It’s surreal. Because when I was at my lowest, when I was beat, beat down mentally, physically, emotionally, I was broken in every way. But, thankfully, not spiritually, because that’s what really saved me. And yes, it started with Love and Hip Hop which I consider a blessing, even though I know there are some mixed opinions about ratchet TV. But it opened doors for me. Places I couldn’t even get into before were rolling out the red carpet and paying me to show my face. And not just here. France. Italy. People would watch, and they would listen, and I could finally speak, from the heart.

Chrissy Monroe, Head of Survive and Thrive”