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Hope Rising to Participate in McKinney’s Arts In Bloom with a “What Were You Wearing?” Exhibit

Survivors are often asked the question, “What Were You Wearing?” This question usually implies that maybe they could have prevented the assault had they worn something else. Hope Rising aims to debunk this myth through a powerful art exhibit on April 12-14 entitled, “What Were You Wearing?” at the McKinney Arts in Bloom festival.

The art installation will display outfits that have been recreated from the stories of survivors. It’s intended to reinforce the fact that the clothing doesn’t cause sexual violence, the person who causes harm is the one to blame. Through this project, Hope Rising seeks to help survivors find peace and to provide a moment of awareness for our local community.

Installation History

The “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation originated at the University of Arkansas in 2013. Created by Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert, the project was inspired by Dr. Mary Simmerling’s poem, What I Was Wearing.

Deeply moved by the poem, Dr. Wyandt-Hiebert and Ms. Brockman began to brainstorm ways to create a visual representation of the poem during a break at the conference. Throughout June 2013, they conceptualized and developed the framework for the Installation. In April 2014, they hosted the first “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Student-survivors at the University of Arkansas voluntarily shared brief descriptions of what they were wearing when they experienced sexual violence via personal interviews. These descriptions were used to recreate the outfits worn during the assaults.

The Art Installation will challenge participants to reflect on what gives this specific rape culture myth so much power.  Participants will begin to understand that it is never about the clothing, and the act of shedding those clothes is never enough to bring peace or comfort to survivors. Ending sexual violence is not as easy as simply changing our clothes.

Share Your Story: What Were You Wearing?

To create the art display, we need your help. You can anonymously share a brief description of what you were wearing when you experienced sexual violence. Hope Rising will recreate some of the outfits, along with the description, to be used in “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation in McKinney in early 2019.

Below are a few examples from previous submissions:

“Nike shorts and a concert sweatshirt. Seems so normal. So every day. It was too, just any other day, except for this. Except for what happened. ”

“Jean shirt, jeans, and Toms. Everyone seems so confused when I tell them this. Like they can’t understand what I am saying. They can’t understand what I was wearing. It’s almost funny. Almost.”

“Leggings and a hairband. They matched. He liked the leggings. Told me they looked good on me. I felt so honored to have his attention. Except he was not the nice guy I thought he was. It all happened so fast. I was so scared.”

“Shorts and a tank top. I was walking home from a friend’s place on the well-lit bike trail. It was a 2-minute walk, I thought I was safe.”


Please go to our Web Page to submit your story.  Or to volunteer at the exhibit please sign up at