Trans model stuns in dress made from flags of countries where being LGBTQ is illegal.

Sometimes a fashion statement says so much more than "I'm fierce."

When Dutch designers Mattijs van Bergen and Oeri van Woezik joined forces for EuroPride, they knew they wanted to contribute something that spoke volumes. As visual artists, it was important for that message to be conveyed through the power of a single image.

Or in this case, a single dress.


The Amsterdam rainbow dress. Photo by Pieter Henket, used with permission.

The "Rainbow Dress" is 52-feet long, with a skirt made up of the flags from the 72 countries around the world where homosexuality is considered a crime.

Appropriately, the "Rainbow Dress" is being modeled by world-renowned transgender model, Valentijn de Hingh.

While the skirt was constructed of flags from countries where being gay is illegal, the bodice of the dress was constructed from the three flags of the city of Amsterdam, so as to honor "the free spirit of Amsterdam and the safe shelter Amsterdam provides for lesbian and gay people all over the world," said van Woezik in an email.

After Amsterdam's annual Pride Parade, Arnout van Krimpen and Jochem Kaan of the COC Amsterdam (a Dutch organization for LGTBQ rights) reached out to them and asked if they could do something interesting with Amsterdam's flags. Bergen and Woezik had been friends for years, and they saw this as the perfect opportunity to put their creative minds together and build something truly unique.

Afgelopen week regent het vage berichten op mijn persoonlijke Facebook over een superspannende samenwerking. Ik ga er...

Posted by OERI VAN WOEZIK on Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The concept of the dress is to take the idea of freedom of expression and turn it into a mirror that shows where in the world the freedom to be LGBTQ is lacking.

"Mattijs, Arnout, Jochem and I felt the need to do something impactful in the context of our craftsmanship. We all live in Amsterdam which considers freedom of speech and expression a universal right for everyone," wrote Woezik.

Of the 72 countries represented on the skirt of the Rainbow Dress, 10 consider homosexuality an offense that can be punishable by death. In Yemen, married men can be sentenced to death by stoning for having sexual intercourse with a man. In Qatar, Muslims can be put to death for extramarital sex of any kind. According to a 2014 report, certain homosexual acts can be punishable by flogging, a fine, or prison time in Sudan.

As a port city, Amsterdam has always been a safe haven for people from all backgrounds and of all orientations. The dress is meant to be a reminder to citizens that while the country encourages freedom of self-expression, its citizens should also be proud and supportive of that message.

Such freedom should not be a privilege that only some countries' citizens get to enjoy — it should be a given. Hopefully this bold statement will get the necessary politicians to say "yes" to the dress.

Check out the video of the dress in action at a photo shoot below:

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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