Bullying is not a new epidemic. The use of force, threat, coercion or abuse to aggressively impose domination over others is, sadly, a problem as old as time itself. More than ever, we seem to be seeing new ways to bully and be bullied. Not just in our schools but also in the workplace, in sports, through gender or sexual prejudice and online. In turn, as the issue of bullying has become more nuanced and sophisticated, a new understanding of the problem as it grows in our society must be developed.
Bullying used to evoke images of one child rough housing in a schoolyard with another and be understood as physical acts of violence that usually came about after words just didn't seem to have effect any further. Today's generation have the Internet, a global playground making bullying a global issue and harder for parents to control.
Before the technology boom children had a limited number of resources for growing their education and behavior: parents, teachers, friends, environment and media limited to books and television. A child's education today exists on a much broader scale with endless possibilities for self-education; what might now be one of the new educators in children's lives is the Internet. The videos they watch, the information they read, as well as hurtful words from kids at school may now follow them into this virtual world on Facebook and Twitter. It can make emotional escape feel impossible.
As my husband and I discussed our dream of one day having children we found ourselves questioning what to do. How do we keep our kids away from bullying and keep them safe? How can we make sure they don't themselves become a bully? Should we home-school them so we can lookout for them everyday and keep them in our safe little bubble? But will that alienate them from society and from the beautiful experience of being a kid and growing up?
Today the term "bullying" is more pervasive than ever. Just the other day I watched a commercial warning me not "to be bullied by cheaper airfares," directly after a news segment detailing bullying by coaches in professional sports and a child suicide as a result of school bullying. Bullying is here and now! But it has a simple antidote: the act of human compassion. This is the motivation for Fashion 4 Compassion -- the fundamental belief that kindness, through awareness, can make a change.
What was striking to our team about establishing Fashion 4 Compassion was that bullying had affected every person we spoke to. Everyone had experienced being bullied, knew someone who had been bullied or even been bullies themselves! It's been extremely important to our team that we understand the psychology of bullying; what creates the problem and what we may be able to do to wipe it out. Our aim is to fund charitable organizations that are developing programs we believe can make a difference, such as funding a 24/7 Samaritan-style hot-line, the first of its kind, to provide endless guidance and counseling to victims of bullying.
Our team comes from the fashion world: from jewelry to apparel, accessories to handbags. The business of fashion and retail is what we know best so spreading the message of kindness through fashion seemed like the most harmonious partnership. In the past fashion associated with charity has often seemed to sublimate its fashion ability to the cause. We believe a message can be more widespread if the product being sold is in itself more desirable. The more people want a product, surely the wider the underlying message is going to spread. Our aim is simple: to generate the most desirable fashionable products, garments or accessories, and have the proceeds donated to worthwhile social causes and issues; the first being the problem of bullying. Our fashion not only sends a message in design trend but also carries a message of compassion and acceptance. We are quite literally attempting to make it fashionable to be compassionate!
Our team was inspired to be proactive and creative in coming up with ways to engage consumers, educators, celebrities and society through fashion in order to bring a unified voice to the cause. We decided to design and create individual brands to target each demographic because not all kids, teens or young adults shop in the same department. From this idea came Skate Against Hate to speak to an active street wear customer, the Compassion collection to cater to an older sophisticated women's demographic, Generation Kind for males and females ages 16 to 25, ACTive KINDNESS for the athletic/yoga lifestyle demographic etc. Each brand is designed with style, price and positive messaging in mind to appeal to each demographic. Fashion 4 Compassion also aims to create local and national fundraising events such as Catwalk 4 A Cause and Skate Against Hate, through partnering with other known brands.
As our team watched the world and its problems change, we were inspired to create our own change. Fashion 4 Compassion donates proceeds from every item sold so that "What you wear can make a difference."