The kids weren’t the only ones to start noticing. She would occasionally hear in the halls as well as during class. Anywhere she went, she felt as though she was being googled.“Is she still wearing that dress?” The girls whispered. Real soon, this same issue would arise, and she’d have to clarify herself. She had never anticipated, so far, that this would be a snowball and that soon the same question would be asked by people from all over the world. But when they heard her answer, they were all taken aback. What could this probably be about?
As a teacher, you must show up at school wearing proper clothes. Some schools do have uniforms for teachers, but others do not. And this means that teachers must prepare various outfits in advance every day. Julia had been a teacher for a while and always ensured that she was dressed nicely and accessorized. As an art teacher, she loved colored clothing and interesting costumes. But her outfit at school for the first day was pretty strange…
Planning Her Outfit
At Moorestown, New Jersey’s William Allen Middle School, Julia Mooney, 34, had just accepted a new job as an art teacher and decided to dress for the occasion. This dress, however would soon cause such an uproar that her story made headlines around the world. With an outfit, what could be wrong? Julia had no idea just how much she would impress everyone when she bought that dress!
With the new role came a lot of enthusiasm, but her night-before jitters were worse than normal. With the all-new students and bosses, she knew all the attention would be on her. What she didn’t realize was that her dress would be talked about by the school. They all gossiped about it and before Julia actually talked about it, she could do nothing but embrace her fate…
Finding The Dress
Julia saw the dress online and knew it was important for her to have it. Nobody expected to see her wear this dress on the first day of school, though. Soon enough this new art teacher was going to draw so much attention that if she did not justify herself, she might even get fired!
Who Is She?
If you wonder who Julia Mooney is, then you should realize that she’s not only a middle school art teacher, but also a mom of two. She is a New Jersey native and teaches at William Allen Middle School in Moorestown. But her lifestyle choices are not precisely what you would consider natural…
A Family Woman
Julia is fond of spending as much time as possible with her family. She takes them and teaches them on farms about animals, and she likes to knit clothes too. On one of their journeys, they went to an alpaca farm and she was given some wool. She also educates her kids to do gardening and other skills that are going to be helpful in the future. Things at the new school, however, were a little different. Here’s how it all began…
Minding Her Own Business
Mooney knew that the new school would send her some strange answers, but she never thought that she was going to be so self-conscious about her outfit. Mooney said, “I usually don’t really think of myself as someone who really cares so much about what people think.” Things were about to become different, though!
A Perfect Fit
After getting her two children ready for kindergarten, she was on her way. Her new dress fitted her well, and she was satisfied with her purchase, which was not inexpensive at $50. While this was not exactly the prettiest dress she could buy, she wanted to meet her target. However, her first day at school was almost a disaster!
A Hot Day
Julia also felt hopeful. She felt like everything was going swimming since presenting herself tentatively to her pupils in 6th and 7th grade… That’s before the temperature starts to rise outside. Julia strategically put herself under the air conditioning unit, but she didn’t feel any cooler. Her skin was beginning to flush, and she realized, “Oh no I’m sweating! The horror!”
It Was Getting Hotter
Embarrassed, she tried to stay on the course, fanning herself with a book. But all she could think about was the summer heat, which had steadily crept past the 90-degree mark. Hours passed, and it seemed like the day was endless. While the students were happy to meet the new art instructors, Julia felt like she wasn’t making a good impression that day.
The Rest Of The Day
After a long stream of introductions, the classes felt endless! Every 13-year-old who came through the doors to meet her was a new opportunity to make an impact, and she felt like she was losing it. Eventually, the day was over; she returned to her car, relieved. She was mortified to feel her dress sticking against her back like a wet cheesecloth. She told herself that at least tomorrow would be better.
The Next Day
That was just the beginning! Some of the pupils noticed the next morning, when Mrs. Mooney arrived at school, that she was not like their other teachers. Some of her students discovered that the art teacher wore the same outfit as the day before. Another day passed, and it became obvious that people started talking about it.
They Were Talking About Her
While others were not exactly receptive for the first couple of days, soon enough it was understood by everyone. Was there something wrong with the art teacher? No one could understand why her dress was not changed by the new instructor. One of the students found that she changed her boots and added a scarf.
She Wore It Everywhere
At thirteen, girls are increasingly aware of their appearance and the clothes they wear, coveting fashionable pieces and designer labels. So it was no wonder that Mrs. Mooney was immediately noticed by some of the girls. You would be shocked when you see why Julia wore the same dress as the days go by. She not only wore that dress at school, but also on the weekends and when she was in town!
Why She Wore The Dress
While no one had asked her what the reason for her decision was, Julia realized it was only a matter of time before anyone said it. Julia knew that she would have to answer a lot of questions when people had the courage to voice their concerns about her unchanging outfit. Would she be in trouble in this new workplace?
Didn’t She Have Other Clothes?
Soon, Julia was talking about William Allen Middle School. She wore her grey dress every day that week and people could not keep their eyes away from it The speculation began to fly. Several teachers were worried. Was Mrs. Mooney struggling? Students, too, began to wonder. But as anyone who attended high school knows, teens could be relentless.
The Elephant In The Room
As she ignored the elephant in the room, Julia proceeded to teach. She was aware of the snickers and whispers that surrounded her in the halls and the playground. And her colleagues had started to look at her differently, treating her as if she were weak but refusing to directly ask her about her wardrobe. But she realized she had to ride it out. She wanted to stay on the course. So, she put it on.
Following The Rules
As you can all imagine, the comments around her were whether Julia wasn’t a little too odd to be a teacher and was her actions impacting the children? Some of the parents even spoke to the principal, requesting a meeting. Was Julia going to be fired for wearing the same dress every day? Nevertheless, she didn’t even break any rules.
Was She Struggling?
Has the new instructor been struggling with cash? You can’t possibly own only one dress no matter how poor you are. Plus, Julia arrived from time to time wearing various shoes and scarves. For her art class, including aprons, she even had several sweaters and other items. So what exactly was the story behind the grey dress? They were all curious, and that couldn’t last forever. Or so everyone thought!
Others Were Bothered By It
Some individuals were just made crazy by her never-changing outfit. Others thought it was repugnant to Julia’s lifestyle. Among the various opinions, most thought it was boring for an art teacher to wear the same grey dress. But for Julia, there were a few reasons to wear this dress. Parents are stunned to learn the truth about their children’s teachers before the mystery is solved!
Addressing The Question
By the end of Julia’s third week, people could not contain their enthusiasm anymore. It was on all their faces that she could see the issue. And she knew the time to tackle it was coming. But what was the tale of that grey dress, exactly? And why wouldn’t she take it off, Julia? By now, everybody was dying to listen.
Still Wearing The Dress
Julia had a smart trick up her sleeve, you see. It was all carefully planned, and for a reason, she had chosen the plain grey dress. I walk down the halls and they’re like, ‘Is she wearing that dress all the time?’ ‘, said Julia. Regardless, as more and more individuals took notice, she could not help but smile.
The teacher explained, “I needed to pick a dress that was going to be versatile because I’m going to wear it through the winter, and it was 90 degrees when we started the school year When they eventually gathered the courage to ask her why she had worn the same dress for weeks, she led her students to her Instagram page. Her feed on Instagram contained all the answers.
An Outfit For A Hundred Days
Her Instagram page featured a post called One Outfit 100 Days, which reads, “I’ll be wearing this dress for at least 100 days, through ceramics projects, blizzards, whatever.” Huh? Boring? Sure. Oh sure. I enjoy expressing myself as much as the next American in what I wear. “This is a challenge.” But still, why would anyone do such a boring thing? Ok, she has four terrific explanations.
The first reason is a straightforward one as to why Julia chose to spend 100 days wearing the same outfit. It’s time-saving. Since she had to look after two toddlers, a minimalist lifestyle makes sense. As she enjoyed saying goodbye to the agonizing issue of what to wear, she had more free time with her loved ones. Her reasons don’t end there however. She has a much deeper message for customers everywhere.
Julia is an active slow-fashion supporter. What is then, ‘fast fashion’? ‘Fast fashion’ is simply cheap, trendy fabric and cost-effective clothing, but, sadly, it does not last long. An example is Forever 21. We demand lots of cheap clothing, Julia explained, “so retailers have to produce in foreign factories where workers are not protected by US labor laws.” Slow fashion is just the opposite—promoting high quality and fair labor practices.
With large quantities of clothing being produced abroad to meet the rising demand for cheaper goods, many companies unethically employ underage workers in their factories. What’s worse is that there are no rules in place to protect these youngsters. By buying fewer pieces of clothes, Julia helps to stem the demand for cheaper labor. Although Julia’s decision is the main reason for this, it’s not the only one.
Julia is eager to be a conscientious buyer, and she is also combating the fashion industry’s environmental consequences. With the consumption of apparel at an all-time global high, it is no wonder that unsustainable environmental policies are depleting the earth’s essential resources. Julia avoided adding to her carbon footprint by choosing a fair-trade hemp dress from a London-based clothing company called ‘Thought.’ So how have people reacted to Julia’s project?
The most popular reaction she has gotten is disgust. Some individuals just assume that it is not hygienic to wear the same clothing item every day. And the food for thought is her reply. “Julia responded by saying, “I’m just telling them: this is not a hygiene initiative. I wash it as required. I come clean to work. Many people wear uniforms, and they are not meant to be filthy. Julia’s 100-day challenge in one outfit has another thought-provoking takeaway.
Food For Thought
“Do we really need so many new outfits? Do we just perpetuate a culture that defines us on the basis of what we wear rather than what we do? What if we spent our energy trying to be good, interesting people instead of trying to look good and interesting?” People around the world were fascinated by the letter from the teacher, as they supported her argument.
The Instagram of Julia quickly erupted with comments, and she gained over 6,500 followers. A supporter also wrote, “What a movement this teacher started for integrating sustainable strategies into everyday items!” Some of the students and colleagues of Julia soon followed her example, with 17 teachers joining her cause, including her husband, Patrick, a history teacher, who also wore the same shirt for her.
Staying The Course
Some people may not want to listen to their own rationalized assumptions and prefer them. Respect that we are all traveling through life on very different journeys. While you stay on the course, stay friends. She added that she realized that hemp is the “ultimate rockstar fabric” and that all dresses need “deep pockets.”
The challenge I’m presenting is this: “Let’s think before we buy, wear, discard, and buy again,” Julia challenged everyone by saying. Will we purchase used clothes? Responsibly buy? LESS to buy? Know a few things to sew? Do we need that many new clothes, really? Do we just perpetuate a culture which defines us on the basis of what we wear rather than what we do?
After The Challenge
Julia offers more food for thought on her Instagram feed: “Once this is over, I will adjust more often, but it will not consume me like it once did. I’m going to shop, but I’m going to do it mindfully. I’m going to have less, but not to this extreme. We’re not supposed to let our failure to do anything deter us from doing what we can.
Finishing The Challenge
Julia’s challenge came to an end on February 13, 2019, and she posted a photo of fellow teachers and school staff she is working as a sign of unity on wearing the same clothes as her in the final three days. The caption said: “Turns out I work with a pretty cool staff. Just in my house, here’s a shot of 17 teachers who decided to support this project by wearing the same thing for the past three days. Nice way to finish on #day100 with #OneOutfit100days.”
Dealing With Criticism
By using sections of the dress to build new ones and describing what she had taken away from the project, she celebrated the end of her challenge. The instructor said “In the face of criticism, petty or otherwise, continually challenge yourself to respond with equal parts of grace and hard proof. Never get defensive at all.”
“Who’s still repairing clothes at this age?” she added. “With clothes so cheap and almost disposable, our time does not seem worth it… So much so that it’s a forgotten art here. We should maybe rethink this. Perhaps our clothes are worth repairing, so they can continue to serve us. Maybe we’d respect them more and be more inspired to repair them if we spent more on reliable, ethically made clothing. It appears to be a safer option than landfills.”
In an interview, Julia said, “I like to wear clothes; I like to express myself… I know that we all look at what the other person is wearing,” she added, “It is uncomfortable to wear the same thing every day because we have this deeply embedded cultural expectation to change every day It’s weird, but because it’s weird, it makes us all think.”