LaGrange College hosts art exhibit, “What were you wearing?”

Published 5:23 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

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“What were you wearing?” It’s a question that sexual assault victims all too frequently hear after telling others of the traumatic experience that they endured. 

On Wednesday, LaGrange College’s Turner Hall hosted a walk-thru art exhibit aimed at challenging a dismissive narrative of sexual assault, titled “What were you wearing?”

Inspired by a poem of the same name, Dr. Mary Wyandt-Heibert and Jen Brockman created an art exhibit using donated clothing based on descriptions of the clothing sexual assault survivors were wearing when they experienced sexual violence.

Using the descriptions provided, outfits were recreated to show how little their outfit had to do with their attack.

Volunteers at Harmony House recreated the display at LaGrange College in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is in April each year.

The goal of the project is to have people rethink asking about what someone was wearing when they were sexually assaulted.

To question a sexual assault survivor about what they were wearing when they were attacked introduces the idea that the clothing they were wearing provoked the assault. The display shows it does not. 

The display shows the wide variety of the different clothing victims reported wearing when they were assaulted. The art exhibit displays t-shirts and baggy jeans, pajamas, jogging suits and other everyday wear — basically, everything that women wear— including a heartbreaking display of a child’s dress.

Since the exhibit was created in 2013, it has frequently been recreated around the country each year, often in April, to help people unlearn one of our culture’s most prevalent sexual assault myths.

The exhibit has closed at Turner Hall but Harmony House Director Michele Bedingfield said they hope to bring the exhibit to the Troup County Government Center next week. She said they plan to make the display an annual tradition in April.