“What is it with women and their bras???“, asks a guy overhearing us gals talk about ours.
I always feel bad for male readers, when the topic of the day is something most can’t relate to. Today might be one such day. Most men don’t understand bras. They don’t understand why we wear them, why we like them, and they certainly don’t understand why we spend so much money on them.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the answers to those questions could be the subject of another post, but today the focus is on a man who knows the power in a bra.
There are women who hate bras, but I love them. They are vital in encouraging “the girls” to stay close to home. Everyone knows home is where the heart is. Additionally, my mother taught me, the importance of dressing in layers. With that in mind, I figure I might as well make the first layer a good one.
Since their invention, we have been shaped by our bras, as they defined both feminine beauty and feminine roles. Bras have never been more significant than they were in the The 20th Century, when bra-burning became an emblematic act for the cause of feminism. After women stopped burning their bras and went back to wearing them, bras got all girly again–until now.
In the 21st Century, the bra is being used to liberate, empower and provide economic freedom for women. Free the Girls is a non-profit organization, which came into being, because of one-man’s awareness and compassion for the plight of sex trafficking victims in Mozambique.
In America, the freedom women have over their bodies is taken for granted, but in other parts of the world, the loss of virginity, an out of wedlock birth, or a sexually transmitted disease can mean being stigmatized, ostracized or even killed. For women who are sold as sex slaves, getting out doesn’t always mean freedom from the past. Those who manage to escape, carry with them the painful memories, but many also face health problems such as HIV, or may have trouble finding work, either because they are social outcasts, or because they have no education.
American pastor & missionary, Dave Terpstra knew he wanted to do something to help the women in Mozambique who had escaped the world of forced-prostitution. He knew there was money to be made selling used clothing, but when he realized bras were a premium item, he had a brilliant idea. His vision became the inspiration for this organization.
He solicited the help of his friend Kimba Langas, to help him collect bras in the United States, which the women in Mozambique could sell, and Free the Girls was born. Since bras fetch top prices in the street bazaars of Mozambique, they became the perfect mechanism to provide women a means to support themselves, while trying to reclaim their lives.
My favorite causes, are those which provide the means for people to rebuild their lives, so when I first learned of Free The Girls, it immediately claimed a spot in my top ten. Sex trafficking is a growing problem in the United States and abroad, as women of all nations are sold into lives of prostitution. It is a bigger problem than any one organization can tackle, but Free The Girls came about because a few grassroots individuals chose to light a candle, instead of closing their eyes to the darkness.
Free The Girls provides a way for ordinary women to help other women. Even if you feel you can’t afford to support a charity, they’ve made it easy for anyone to make a difference. Below are ways to get involved. Hopefully, you’ll find one that suits you.
If you’re like me, you have bras you don’t wear. Maybe the style is wrong, maybe it isn’t comfortable, or maybe it just doesn’t fit right. Instead of donating them to thrift stores (who often discard or dispose of them) mail your nearly-new bras to:
Free the Girls, 8200 S. Quebec St. #A3-137 Centennial, CO 80112
While you‘re at it, ask your girlfriends if they have any to include in the package, since you have to go to the post office anyway.
On the FTG site, are lists of collections sites in various states, but if you work in an office or have a business, consider starting your own bra-drive (which in Free the Girls lingo is known as a “brive”). I hope to have one, as soon as I can find a group to partner with.
Don’t feel like going to so much trouble? Why not buy t-shirt? Free The Girls t-shirts come in several styles, and unlike most cause-related t-shirts, these are fresh and sassy. I bought one, just to provide me opportunities to tell others about this organization.
The t-shirts sales and donations are important, because though collecting bras doesn‘t cost anything, shipping them to Africa does. Kimba suggests including a buck for each bra you donate, to help cover the costs of getting them where they need to go, but if you don’t feel like being bothered with bras at all, consider visiting their website to make a donation. 100% of the your donation will be used to directly fund job creation projects.
Whether you do a little, or a lot, you can feel good, knowing your small effort could make a huge difference on the other side of the world. You’ll feel good, and the girls will thank you.
Deb’s Note: You can learn more and view videos by visiting CNN’s site devoted to ending modern-day slavery.