Tag Archives: fashion

Selfies for a cause: Dressember!

Slavery is alive today in the shadows of our culture. I’m participating in Dressember because I believe in everyday advocacy. I am hoping that by raising awareness and talking about it, we can all help to shift this culture that looks the other way, or believes that we are powerless.

Dressember day 1.
Dressember day 1.

The first step to change is being aware of the problem. The next is finding ways to support programs that are already working toward that change. And the hardest of all, will be self-education so that we don’t accidentally support the conditions that make it the only option for people around the world.

I’m going to do my best at raising awareness, and invite you to help by sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Email!

But, first some details…

According to the US Government definitions of slavery, there are several different types:

Dressember day 2.
Dressember day 2.
  1. Forced Labor. Immigrants are the likely victims of this, as they pay for their passage to another country.
  2. Sex Trafficking. It is what it says, forced sex workers, coerced or forced into work through fear tactics and manipulation.
  3. Bonded Labor. This is more straight forward, paying off a debt through employment, often in less than safe conditions.
  4. Debt Bondage. Just like bonded labor, but usually through more organization when an employee relies on the employer for being in another country.
  5. Involuntary Domestic Servitude. Servants who are isolated and work in domestic areas away from other workers.
  6. Forced Child Labor. Children are victim to sex trafficking, bonded and forced labor.
  7. Child Soldiers. Yes, it is what it says. There’s a high likelihood that kids in this area are sexually abused, both boys and girls.
  8. Child Sex Trafficking. This one requires quoting, “According to UNICEF, as many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. International covenants and protocols obligate criminalization of the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The use of children in the commercial sex trade is prohibited under both U.S. law and the Palermo Protocol as well as by legislation in countries around the world.”
Dressember day 3.
Dressember day 3.

Now, if that list doesn’t make you want to cry, and angers you to want to take action, you can do an online training, “Human Trafficking Awareness Training.

Still with me? Okay, time for more…many of us, myself included, assume slavery does not exist in America. But, it does. Mostly in the sex trafficking area, but others as laborers. We have one of the lowest percentages of slaves per capita, just .02% (60,000) according to a Washington Post article.

CNN Money reported in 2014 about slave labor in America – specifically in the areas of agriculture, construction and hospitality.

Business Insider did an article on Sex Trafficking. I’ve read about it before, but this is an good overview of the topic and how easily young teen women fall into it.

Dressember day 4.
Dressember day 4.

There are several organizations working to combat the circumstances that enable slavery today around the world. Dressember was started by Blythe who wanted to engage her love for fashion with social activism. It’s really quite brilliant in that it encourages us to participate in the dialog and raise money for these organizations.

This year’s campaign is raising funds for International Justice Mission, and A21. While I did setup a campaign page to officially register, I encourage you to go directly to each organization and give what you can to the one that does the work you believe in the most.

And, feel free to follow along with my on Instagram: @holli.with.an.i as I post a selfie a day to prove I’m wearing a dress a day!



What I Learned From A Model

I never would have thought that I would know a fashion photographer. But, as I’m growing in my work, I’m meeting other photographers from various genres. Last year, while taking a Creative Live course in studio lighting, I had the opportunity to befriend Alecia Lindsey. We got together just this past month to practice what we had learned, and she coordinated work with a model, Jessica Marie Cantu.

This was a really fun opportunity and I am so glad I finally worked with a real model and got to see a fashion photographer in action…and I finally am starting to feel confident with my studio lighting work!

Jessica Cantu by Holli Margell

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My passion is to help everybody, no matter what shape or size, look and feel beautiful in photographs. While I do get inspired by images in fashion magazines, my focus is really on captivating portraits. Until last month, I have only photographed what I call “real women” – but the truth is that we are all real women. And, I realized that while I had the opportunity to work with a model. Yes, she was able to move her body in ways many of us cannot, but she is just as kind and real as all the real women I know.

I also realized this while walking through some mud in the green space while talking with another mother as our kids played. She talked about an article where a ballerina defended the wear and tear on her feet (often regarded as ugly and inhumane) as akin to the hands of a wood worker, a craftsmen. The ballerina was proud of her feet. That gave me an “aha!” moment where I thought about how we are all so different and about how art and media tries to celebrate only a fraction of the body of humanity.

This changes the way I see myself as a photographer. I used to use the phrase, “photographing real women” and I want to change that. I need to stop buying into the divisiveness that kind of language reaffirms. We’re all real. Instead, I will say I aim to capture the beauty in everyone.

Dressed Like A Mama

Walking after my little "Robin" girl at the park.

Several months ago my cousin told me, “You’re not dressed like a Mom.” I asked him how I was dressed, and he said, “Like someone kinda young, like in their early twenties.” This is funny because he is 21 and I’m 28.  For reference, I was wearing dark pink leggings, a jean skirt, a black and white striped tee shirt and black Mary Jane shoes.  I felt pretty in that outfit, like I had actually dressed like I wanted to and not like I threw on clothes in a hurry (which has been standard practice since having kids).

Before I had kids, I had a pretty good sense of my own personal style. I felt confident when I got dressed. I had fun.  I have never felt such a conflict of self image in fashion before becoming a Mama. My physical dimensions have changed so much over the past two pregnancies and even now, nearly three years since our second daughter was born I find that I only have two or three pairs of pants that fit at any given time.  I actually wear holes in my jeans from kneeling on the ground or playing on the floor with the kids.

Last week, my self image doubting set in and I thought I needed some new clothes. Two pairs of pants don’t really fit, again.  And, it’s cold. I was cold, and cranky.  I wanted clothes that fit. I wanted to be warm and enjoy walking in the brisk winter mornings with lined pants, nice boots and a thick sweater.  But, I did not want to go shopping.  I did not want to have to look at clothes and deal with people.  Instead, I sat myself down with a hot pack, some tea and thought about all the things I have to keep me warm and clothed that I do like. I have more than enough in my closet.  I just need to start wearing skirts again.  The next day, I dressed up on purpose, and made the effort to work with what I have in my closet.

This week, I stumbled upon The One Dress Protest via one of my favorite blogs, RowdyKittens, which inspires me as I try to embrace a more simple life with less stuff.  The One Dress Protest is a project of a twenty-something woman to wear one dress for a year.  Why would she do that? Well, she calls it her “fashion fast” and is using what she has to protest the garment and fashion industry as well as challenge herself.  While I don’t feel compelled to join her protest, I do appreciate the values and points she is trying to make. It makes me question how my self confidence is tied to what I wear. I’m still sorting out what style I have, and to simply feel confident when I get dressed.

For now, I’ll enjoy my jeans with holes in the right knee.  And, lucky me, it’s still kinda in fashion to wear torn up jeans. For added warmth, I’m now wearing them with those dark pink leggings underneath.  Because, nearly everyday brings me to my knees as I dry some tiny tears and comfort my little kids when they fall down running around.