It was 6th grade. The awkward, and sometimes emotionally violent, time for any kid forging their way through the muck of adolescence. I was a tomboy with a bowl haircut and glasses. In 4th grade I wrestled with the boys and played football on the playground. In 5th grade, I punched a girl because she called me a name. But in 6th grade, something different started stirring inside of me.
Puberty came for me in 6th grade and somehow a boy liked me. I don’t remember why or how I came up with the idea, but one day I decided to wear a dress to school – something I had never done before. There wasn’t anything about me that was “girly” and it took every ounce of courage to walk onto the school property. My body still holds the humiliation I felt that day. The comments and looks from my schoolmates confirmed that I was not a real girl. I didn’t belong in a dress and I hated them.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I had worn a dress less than 20 times since that awful day in 6th grade. And that is most likely a generous number. As I watched the Christmas decorations going up in Katy’s apartment, I heard the word Dressember shoot across the room.
“What are you two talking about?”
“Dressember. It’s where women around the world are wearing a dress every day in December to raise money in the fight against human trafficking.”
I rolled my eyes, but my heart jumped. My mind and emotions started wrestling with each other. I silently spun all the reasons why Dressember was out of reach for me. I don’t like dresses. 31 days in a row…really! Nope, not for me.
And then Tracy’s words invited me back to the conversation, “You could totally do this Tracy. It would be so good and you could raise a lot of money.” Katy chimed right in as well. I could feel everything in me want to retreat and shut-down, but instead I leaned in and asked for more details.
As I laid in bed that night looking through the dressemeber.org web site, I heard myself say, “I can’t do this. This would be unbearable.”
I sent a text asking if the others were signing up as individuals or as a team. Anxiety flooded my gut. I was actually considering this. The first reply said probably as individuals and that I would do great. And while this was true from a fundraising standpoint, I felt a wave of disappointment because I know on my own all too well.
Moments later a second text buzzed, “Katy wants to do a Red Tent Living Team.” 30 minutes later I was signed up and committed to wearing a dress for 31 days in December. I drifted off to sleep feeling anxious. Anxious because I had no idea how I was going to do this and anxious for what God might do in and through me.
For me to stay present, I needed to do this together with my friends.
We are into the 4th week of this challenge and I am feeling a bit weary of wearing a dress or skirt every day. I’m longing for my jeans and pull-over, but so much good has and is continuing to unfold that I will press on to the finish line.
The goal of Dressember has been to raise money to help end the dark world of human trafficking. I am grateful for the amazing donations that have come from both expected and unexpected places…and…Dressember has been another battle field where I continue to fight for my own feminine heart.
When I started this journey, I asked God to help me embrace being comfortable in my femininity – whether I’m wearing my golf shorts or a dress. Wild Jesus has shown up. I have felt more comfortable than I expected. I have felt more womanly. I am aware I feel a different confidence in myself, a more fully embodied confidence.
The image I bore for almost 45 years that I don’t do dresses is being shattered. The dress I’m wearing today is another standing stone on my journey toward honoring my beauty and femininity. A journey that continues to flourish through choosing to be present together with other women who are walking with me on the journey.
Donate today to join the Red Tent Living team in the fight against human trafficking.
Tracy Hanson spent 15 seasons on the Ladies Professional Golf Tour. She is on a journey of embracing her beauty and living more deeply from her heart, and hopes to continue to share her story through full time ministry. Her hobbies include facilitating trips to the Holy Land, riding her motorcycle, the outdoors, and running. She also writes a monthly golf devotional on her website.