Message dress

Message Dress is Making a Statement

by Natalia Kirychuk, Student Public Relations Writer

Message dress team with CBN news crewSusanna Edwards, a 2019 middle childhood education graduate from Delta, Pennsylvania, participated in the March for Life in Washington, D.C., this year wearing a formal dress covered in baby clothes. She called it “the Message Dress.” Since then, her fashion “statement” has received a lot of attention.

The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) traveled to Cedarville University this spring to do a news story on Edwards and the Message Dress initiative. CBN had previously interviewed Edwards at the March for Life in January and accepted her invitation for a more extensive feature.

— Susanna Edwards

Edwards and her team of like-minded young adults from the Cedarville area joined with Cedarville’s chapter of Students for Life to organize an event called “The Art of The Unborn,” which was held in the Center for Biblical and Theological Studies. The event showcased art of all types that have been created by students, professors, staff members and local Cedarville residents.

Edwards also spoke about the Message Dress on “Joni & Friends,” an international radio show hosted by Joni Eareckson Tada.

What started as an idea to use a unique fashion choice to express her beliefs has now expanded into a national initiative where Edwards is encouraging young women to create their own message dress by attaching baby clothes to their prom dresses. Her team has been readily available to help with the initiative.

Tayana Fowler, senior broadcasting and digital media major from Wellington, Ohio, has served as the videographer for the Message Dress initiative by creating promotional videos. Others have also joined in.

“Since Sue told me about this idea I have been helping her out in whatever way I can, whether that be modeling the dresses or promoting through social media or Students for Life events,” said Anna Edwards, senior psychology major from Liberty Township, Ohio. “I love the way that the Message Dress provides an avenue for beauty and creativity within the pro-life movement. It provokes a certain kind of response for those who see the dresses and helps humanize the children who should be alive and wearing the clothing today.”

Edwards has overseen several photoshoots of women wearing message dresses with students on campus as well as women from the surrounding area. She has set up a website, Instagram account and Facebook page to post about the initiative. Fowler and Edwards are now working on a documentary about the evolution of the Message Dress and its meaning.

Savannah Hart, a 2019 graduate with a B.A. in studio art, has aided the initiative through modeling, speaking in interviews, encouraging others and wearing a onesie on her dress to Cedarville University’s junior/senior dance. Along with Hart, Edwards and three others wore baby clothes on their formal wear to the event.

After finding the Message Dress online, a young woman named Aliyah was inspired to wear a dress covered in baby clothes to the March for Life in Virginia. Edwards hopes that many more young women will be inspired to join the initiative.

“This project has afforded all of us opportunities to walk in unity regularly with our pro-life convictions, to discuss and pray over it regularly, to seek to share it regularly and that’s what we need in the pro-life movement,” said Edwards. “Every individual has a right to pro-life convictions. Who we are has nothing to do with what unborn babies are. Unborn babies are whole, distinct, living, unique beings. Regardless of who’s talking about them, they’re still human; they’re still entitled to the basic right of human life.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,193 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.