Daring to Wear Love

23 Oct

Originally uploaded by lauren_onizzle

Last night I attended what has now become an annual fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, the Dare to Wear Love fashion show. (See a longer, earlier post from last May.)
For it, 25 Canadian designers were given a bolt of cloth from Africa and asked to come up with something great. And so they do, designing concoctions that run the gamut from wacky to wonderful. Such is creativity – as the proceeds from the tickets goes to the Foundation’s various grassroots projects throughout Africa.
Yet I am struck by nonetheless with a question a friend raised: what does any of this really have to do with issues of poverty – in this case HIV/Aids? Aren’t we all there just to show off our outfits and our networks and how fabulous we are as we swill our cocktails?
Obviously I can’t answer for everyone – and in the end of course, the money we paid for our tickets is crucial to many people who earn the price of one of those cocktails in a week.
Chris Tyrrell, one of the show’s organizers, told me a little while ago that he didn’t want to find a way of doing some good – and I’m paraphrasing here — by concentrating on the hard luck of those people, on their victimhood, but rather on their strength, determination and ability to carry on. I agree, and feel strongly that a focus on the poor as survivors, or as protagonists, rather than victims is as crucial as the material help they may receive from us. It empowers them and us.
And I have to admit I also liked the fact that this fundraiser wasn’t a dour affair. After all, creativity and self-expression, however crazy, are hugely important aspects of our humanity.

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