It’s that time of year again. Across the nation, women are showing up and showing off their chic white dresses. You may think this is an obvious indication that summer has arrived, but this fashion statement carries an even bigger message of female solidarity:
July Is Fibroids Awareness Month and We Can Wear White.
“July by itself is a great month to wear white, but I also have a personal connection to the month. In July 2013, I had 27 fibroids removed,” explains Tanika Gray Valbrun, Founder and Executive Director of The White Dress Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting uterine fibroid awareness. “Having fibroids has been life changing. With my experience came a lot of clarity, and thus The White Dress Project was born.”
If you or someone you know has had uterine fibroids, you’re probably aware of how frustrating and hopeless the condition can be. Fibroids develop in the wall of the uterus, and although noncancerous, these growths can be the cause of relentless periods, pelvic pain, and uncomfortable bloating. Statistics show that more than 80% of black women and nearly 70% of white women will develop fibroids by age 50 and many will seek treatment for relief from bothersome symptoms.1 For these women, wearing a white dress seems nearly impossible.
But defeat was never an option for Mrs. Valbrun and her White Dress Warriors. Instead, the white dress is seen as a symbol of empowerment and persistence. Through fundraising efforts, The White Dress Project has helped to advance fibroid research. It has also worked with our nation’s legislators, declaring July as Fibroids Awareness Month in Maryland, Florida, Washington DC, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Georgia, and the city of New Orleans. Houston has recently declared July 22nd as Fibroids Awareness Day. This progress has instilled hope in the hundreds of thousands of women battling this all-too-common disease.
“Women can look forward to many great events this year. We’re excited about our Night In White fundraiser on July 13th. This is our biggest fundraiser in DC,” Mrs. Valbrun says. “Women of Houston can also expect a White Dress event on July 22nd that coincides with Houston’s Fibroids Awareness Day.” During these White Dress events, women will have the opportunity to come out dressed to the nines and have their fibroid questions answered as part of what Mrs. Valbrun calls a “Dialogue with the Doctors.” A therapist will be available to address emotional issues surrounding fibroids.
Also in DC, The White Dress Project is partnering up with department stores to host a fashion show where style meets practicality. “We’re always trying to educate women and make a difference in their lives,” Mrs. Valbrun continues. “This year, we’re starting the conversation about what to wear under white. We’ll be showcasing undergarments women can wear to help protect themselves from fibroid-related accidents.”
Probably one of the most noteworthy strides The White Dress Project has made involves its Ambassador Program. Starting out as a way for women to become fibroid advocates across the nation, The White Dress Ambassador Program is now heading overseas. “We’ve been fortunate to gain interest of several supports and sponsors, which has allowed us to take The White Dress Project globally,” Mrs. Valbrun explains. “I’m excited to say we now have an ambassador in South Africa and we’re in the middle of planning a White Dress Project event there this coming fall.”
No doubt, The White Dress Project is living up to its White Dress Pledge to proudly wear white, increase fibroid awareness, and support sisters everywhere who are dealing with fibroids. “We’re continuously creating a space both nationally and now internationally for women to come together and converse,” Mrs. Valbrun says. “We want women to know they’re not alone.”
This month, #JoinTheFight. Because #WeCanWearWhite.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Alicia Armeli is a Freelance Writer and Editor, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Holistic Life Coach. She has master’s degrees in English Education and Nutrition. Through her writing, she empowers readers to live optimally by building awareness surrounding issues that impact health and wellbeing. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad, and volunteering in her community. She is a paid consultant of Merit Medical.
- Baird, D. D., Dunson, D. B., Hill, M. C., et al. (2003). High cumulative incidence of uterine leiomyoma in black and white women: ultrasound evidence. Am J Obstet Gynecol, Jan; 188(1): 100-107.