Here’s the deal with my prom (see ya on the flip side, male readers):
It was my junior year of high school in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had an amazing boyfriend that iwassoinlovewithiwasgoingtomarryhim, and flipping through the pages of what was probably the most recent copy of Seventeen magazine (they didn’t have Lucky back then), i saw THE.MOST.PERFECT.GOWN.
It was gorgeous.
All white satin, strapless, with a huge black bow the size of Texas in the front.
Oh, how i wanted that beast. Paired with white tights and black patent leather pumps, I would rock that dress like the Salt Lake fashionista that I dreamed of being.
But it wasn’t for sale. It was on a model, but no reference to where to buy it.
And NO, I could not get it on line because it was 1987 and the internets weren’t invented yet. We didn’t have it easy, back then.
And now that I have just dated myself as an old hag, please read on, it gets better, I promise.
The point of the above story is that the dress had a really big ass black bow.
No, wait, that is not the point.
The point of the above story is that I wanted that dress so much and because I couldn’t buy it on the world wide web, and because we had the means to do so, we went to the fabric store and bought about 30 yards of white satin and 200 yards of black satin (because the dress had a really big black bow), and we took it to a sweet woman who made that dress for me.
And I could not imagine, at that selfish time in my life, where I had everything I possibly needed but couldn’t possibly appreciate it, that every other girl on the planet couldn’t do the same. And you know what? I have NO idea what happened to that dress. It’s possible the black bow became a hammock or something, but that’s just a best guess.
A girl named Abby Egland buys a beautiful pink gown to wear to her prom in West Linn, Oregon.
Afterwards, she and her mother look for a place where she could donate it, so that some girl who might be less fortunate, or who loved pink, could have it.
But try as they might, there wasn’t an organization dedicated and focused on just prom dresses.
So they started one. And named it, appropriately, Abby’s Closet.
Their mission: To inspire confidence and respect in high school women by providing free formal gowns for prom and other memorable events.
And this last Saturday, I stood, camera in hand as a volunteer photographer, and witnessed the most amazing event.
3,700 girls, thousands of dresses.
The first girl lined up at 4:30 in the afternoon the day before the event even opened. By 7am on Saturday morning when I arrived, camera in hand, the line outside was as far as the eye could see, and the place was already packed inside.
All shapes, sizes, colors.
Red hair, purple hair. Gay, straight, transgender. Size zero’s, size twenty’s. Tall, short. Nervous, excited. Confident, shy.
All there, patiently waiting, for their dream of finding the perfect prom gown where without this organization, many of them could not.
In the span of the 6 hours that I was there, it really hit me what this organization means to these young women.
They did more than say Yes! to the dress. They supported each other with utmost respect and kindness. They strutted out to the waiting crowd in their new dress and got HUGE cheers from the hundreds of girls waiting to get their turn.
And mostly, the thing that really blew my mind, is that every girl I talked to was planning on paying the experience forward somehow. It may be through this organization, it may be through another that has deep personal meaning for them.
Abby’s Closet opened a door on the selfless act of volunteering for thousands of women this weekend.
So since this is my blog and my words and i’ve already written far too many, i’m going to leave you with two things.
First, some jump starters on organizations I personally love in case you really are looking for a place to start:
Abby’s Closet: Dress donation locations, volunteer opportunities, and much more!
Children’s Cancer Association: Bring joy to children facing life threatening illness through musicRX or chemo pal programs. I don’t know what I would do if my daughter ever got cancer, but if she did, i would sure as hell be happy that the CCA was around.
Myoo: My dear friend and uber environmentalist (but without all the guilt) David de Rothschild started this website as a place to go if you love adventure, love stories, and love our planet, wanting to leave it in a better place than we found it.
The Travelling Red Dress: If you haven’t discovered The Bloggess, you should do it now. she makes me laugh until my belly hurts and she suffers from some pretty mad stuff, and started this really cool project. just read. Also read about the stuffed animals (as in taxidermy, not Build a Bear) she is kind of addicted to.
Oregon Humane Society: need I say more. well, yes. there are literally thousands of pets that need homes. And if you can’t have a pet at home, but you love them, then you can go there and be a best friend through volunteering.
OK, there’s a starter kit for you.
Now… drumroll please… I am obviously not going to post the 600+ photos I took on Saturday, but, as I said in my last post, this IS a photography blog, folks, so of COURSE i’m going to post some pictures! I have chosen my TOP 10 photos, which, mind you, was an incredibly difficult task. But I did it.
So, here we go.
#10 – “friends helping friends.” The essence of it all!
#9 “mirror mirror, on the wall“. I so love this set (i know, i cheated by adding two).
#8 “under the dress”
#7 “the perfect twirl”
#6 perfect match!
#5 “the backstory.”
#4 There was probably only one woman in the entire crowd that was truly “found by the dress.”
#3 “Purple rain,” a whole lotta zipper, and the girl who ROCKED it.
#2 The Girl who started it all
#1 of course, is “the dress.”
It’s never too late to make magic happen. There is always time to give back. And there is nothing quite like the feeling of paying it forward.
Thank you, Abby, from the bottom of my really super human sized Big Black Bow.
PS – go HERE if you want to check out the rest of the photos on Facebook!