Students Dress to Express Beliefs on Abortion

The Message Dress movement hopes to shift the abortion conversation from hate to love

by Zach Krauss

During winter break of 2018, Sue Edwards brainstormed ways to positively impact the conversations about abortion.

She developed an idea that is now known on campus and in pro-life communities across the country as the Message Dress.

Edwards’ original creation was a dress covered in baby clothes.

As the movement has spread, some began wearing an ordinary dress with an article of baby clothing pinned to the back.

Edwards said she wanted something to bring light to the beaut of human life, rather than bringing strive to the pro-life versus pro-choice conversation.

She got the idea after hearing a presentation on campus by the current Students for Life president at Cedarville, Nick Kallis, discussing abortion’s similarity to eugenics.

Eugenics involves removing undesirable characteristics from the human population.

It reminded her of her horror at abortion and inspired her to make the dress to visually highlight what she sees as the beauty of life.

When she wore the dress to the 2019 March for Life in January, she received positive feedback from both individuals and press representatives who were reporting on the march.

The March for Life is an annual peaceful demonstration focused on bringing focus to the beauty of life and pushing for stricter abortion laws.

The cascade of news stories and marketing of the dress seemed to end after the weekend of the March for Life, and Edwards said she felt the inspiration was over.

However, her resolve was sparked once again when New York state legalized full-term abortions on Jan. 22, which was the same day her niece was born.

She was moved yet again.

This time, the Message Dress involved multiple women on Cedarville’s campus, photoshoots and a documentary.

“The Message Dress really has been an awesome responsibility that I’ve been given,” Edwards said. “It really felt like God gave me this idea and told me ‘trust me and have a blast’ and that’s exactly what came of it.”

While Edwards has graduated and is moving to China to begin her career as an educator, she said she is excited to see where the Message Dress will go in the next year.

She is excited about the group of people left at Cedarville who are still passionate about the mission and want to see it grow into something even more involved than it has been.

Natalia Kirychuk, a Cedarville alumna, was close friends with Edwards when they were both at Cedarville, and a part of that group.

When Natalia heard about what Edwards had been doing, she pitched the idea to her supervisor in the Public Relations Department at Cedarville, where she worked.

The story that Natalia wrote, which the PR department published, secured the Message Dress more coverage by news outlets such as the Christian Broadcasting Network.

“We were so excited to hear Sue’s brave and extraordinary idea to advocate for a cause were we all passionate about,” Kirychuk said.

When Edwards, Kirychuk and the rest of the team of students interested in the Message Dress tried to think of ways to better spread the message, they began putting together a promotional documentary on the movement.

Kirychuk said she was thrilled to be involved, especially considering the passion and vigor that Edwards had toward the project.

“Being able to share some of the          story for the documentary was such a special opportunity, and I was very honored to be included,” Kirychuk said. “Working with someone as passionate and motivated as Sue is always special. I learned so much from her graceful way of standing up for what she believes in and her courage in doing so.”

Anna Edwards, a senior Psychology major, first became involved with Students For Life at Cedarville during the March For Life during her first year at Cedarville. She is now a junior and org officer.

She was asked to be involved with spreading the Message Dress vision after the March for Life in 2019, and she has been involved ever since.

Toward the end of the 2019 spring semester, Anna said she was greatly encouraged by a young girl across the country who had made her own Message Dress in order to carry on the idea.

“To me the Message Dress is just a beautiful depiction of life that makes people rethink some of their views,” Anna said. “We need to be running off of love, and I think that’s the main thing that the Message Dress has instilled in me and in other people I know.”

Zach Krauss is a senior Pharmacy/Music double major from central Texas and campus reporter for Cedars. He loves music, theatre, biology, community and meeting new people.

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