Denim Day is More Than Just Spirit


Photo by Julia Hauge

Ellie Austin, Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 27 2022, International Denim Day is recognized around the globe as sexual assault awareness recognition day. For Mercer Island High School— a school that prides itself on spirit and social activism— I believe this spirit day lacked participation.

Advertisement for the day included a post on the MIHS Instagram page run by student leadership, as well as a few posters around the school. The purpose of Denim Day is to show solidarity with victims of sexual assault around the world and to take a strong stance against these horrible acts.

Denim Day originated from an Italian Supreme Court decision in 1998. A rape conviction was overturned because the victim, an 18-year-old girl, was wearing tight jeans, and it was argued she couldn’t have been raped because her jeans were too tight for anyone else to take them off.

This ruling was cruel, misogynistic and disgusting. In response, the activist organization Peace Over Violence held a country-wide event in 1999 dubbed “Denim Day,” with the act of wearing jeans as solidarity for the victim. This tradition has continued for nearly 20 years.

MIHS junior Lainie Wion has worked with the leadership class as well as on her own time to spread awareness about sexual assault and Denim Day.

“People think of [Denim Day] as a normal spirit day, it’s way more than that. It is a global event that is recognized internationally in support of sexual assault survivors,” Wion said.

“The story behind Denim Day is a story that a lot of people should know about, it represents a true story, not just solidarity,” Wion continued, “If people had more information about what the day stood for it would have gotten more participation.”

As a student at MIHS, I observed a fair amount of people wearing denim. However, there definitely could have been more involvement for such an important day of recognition. It is unclear how many students at MIHS were merely wearing jeans as part of everyday attire rather than an intentional action.

“Instagram is the most effective way to spread news about spirit days. If more people had taken action from seeing the post, it could have been different, there could have been more people showing their support,” Wion said.

Sexual assault is prevalent at MIHS, just like everywhere else in the world, and at the high school, education regarding sexual assault awareness has taken place this year.

This past November, a sexual assault awareness protest walkout was hosted by a group of MIHS students, garnering a large group of students and staff who walked out in solidarity with victims of sexual assault. Additionally, presentations have been put on by LifeWire— a non-profit that serves domestic violence survivors in East and North King County— for groups of seniors and juniors in English and History block classes this year.

Through spreading awareness regarding the devastating yet horrifically common topic of sexual assault, and engaging with our community, hopefully there will be change in the future. This is an essential topic, for MIHS students and anyone on Mercer Island as a whole.