If you still need convincing that social media really is about people then read about the Traveling Red Dress Movement started by Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess in 2010. Just like in the pants in Ann Brashares’ book (and movie), the red ball gown made by Sunny Haralson of Rubypearl is passed on to other women around the world who document its journey.
Because of her recent post about her depression and anxiety disorder, the red dress has had a resurgence of interest. As of Monday, The Bloggess with the support of individuals ordering from her online store and other donations, has been able to add two more ball gowns to her collection. The power of the dress is in its story. Jenny writes:
“The red dress was a metaphor for things like flying lessons and doing cartwheels in the park and belting out a song at the bus-stop and jumping in a fountain just for fun, but for me it was literal. I’d always wanted a red silk ball-gown, and I knew I’d never give myself permission to buy something so wasteful – and that’s when I realized how much I needed it. Because when you start to think that your dreams are wasteful that’s a sign that you need to go after them before they run away forever.”
This ethos inspired hundreds of offers of dresses to share with the hashtag #travelingreddress. Even Jennifer Leggio, the contributing who wrote about it for Forbes joined the movement with five red dresses from ModCloth.
The dress itself has earned magical status. Last September, Lolli of Better in Bulk recounts her encounter with “The Bloggess’ red dress:”
Each one of us had walked down those stairs into a room full of other women without ever passing a mirror. Everyone looked gorgeous but that was not what we were focused on. The magic of the Bloggess’ traveling red dress was the way it made each woman feel.
Of course, The Bloggess’ red dress is not the first to circulate via the internet in a gesture of sisterhood. In March of 2009, A tradition began on A Practical Wedding where readers offer to give away their wedding dresses to other readers. As of last summer, they’re trading the 13th dress!
The phenomena is not limited to dresses. They just happen to be tangible manifestations of community and how technology and social platforms overcome time and space and support people coming together.
photo credit: Karen Walrond