Condom dresses may just become the latest fashion this winter as universities across the nation celebrate the 25th World AIDS Day. Cornell University design students marked the occasion with a condom-themed fashion show. The students walked down the runway on Dec. 6 as part of Cornell’s AIDS Awareness Week, showing off their dresses which were made entirely of condoms. The dresses were made possible due to a donation of over 8,000 condoms from the company ONE Condoms.
The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day was “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.” According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six HIV-positive Americans are unaware of their infection. The “Condom Couture” fashion show, which was first held in 2011, is meant to raise awareness to lower this number.
Similar events took place this year at the University of Oregon and the University of Maryland. This year’s show was the 25th annual Condom Couture event at the University of Oregon, having grown from a small, quiet event into a staple event at the university that is a collaborative effort of multiple student groups.
At UMD, 11 student groups competed for the best design. Admission to the event was free, but donations were collected for the Whitman Walker AIDS Walk Washington.
It is no secret that Boston College has had its share of controversy surrounding sexual health awareness. There is no sexual health resource center on campus and BC Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH) has faced constant opposition from the administration. The student group received national attention earlier this year when BC sent letters to members of the group saying that free condom distribution "is not in concert with the mission of Boston College as a Catholic and Jesuit university."
This year’s controversy highlights the growing disparity between the firm, unchanging views of the Catholic school tradition and the realities faced by today’s college students. The university has been widely criticized for turning a blind eye to the fact that college students have sex.
BC does, however, reserve the right to make rules for its own campus, and spokesman Jack Dunn maintained that students signed up to attend a private, Jesuit Catholic institution and it should not be a surprise that Catholic schools do not support pre-marital sex.
Despite all the opposition to the iron hand of the administration, it does not seem likely that a condom couture fashion show will come to BC any time soon. Ninety percent of the student body voted in 2009 for improvement in sexual health education and resources on campus, but the school still lacks an official sexual health resource center and continues to combat student efforts to educate peers about sexual health.All photos courtesy of Condom Couture/Facebook.