Free Bras, Good Cause

Women’s Center holds a clothes swap; remaining items donated to shelter

“Someone brought a bra? Wow!” said Susan B. Marine, director of the Harvard College Women’s Center. “Well, I didn’t say anyone couldn’t bring anything.”

Hundreds of other articles of clothing were exchanged at the “Naked Ladies Brunch,” a clothing swap and drive held at the Women’s Center this Saturday.

The swap was organized to bring women on campus together, as well as benefit a women’s shelter in Boston, according to event organizer and Women’s Center intern Natasha S. Alford ’08.

Stacks of sweaters, jeans, and skirts were piled on the chairs in the Women’s Center lounge, along with some handbags and items of jewelry. The conference room, normally used for student group meetings, doubled as a dressing room with a wooden screen barring the entrance.

“There’s a lot more great stuff here than I expected,” said Naa A. Ammah-Tagoe ’10. “I have a new watch, which I really needed, which is amazing.”

The remaining items that went unswapped were donated to Rosie’s Place, a shelter for poor and homeless women in Boston.

Qingni Lin ’09 said that the plan to contribute the clothes to the shelter influenced her decision to participate in the swap.

“I’ve always wanted to work for Rosie’s Place,” said Lin, who brought eight items to the swap.

“In general, this time of year is tough for shelters,” Marine said. “People start coming in, needing more clothing and more layers.”

Alford said that she got the idea for the swap after hearing from Amanda M. Bagneris ’99 that a group that had pushed for a women’s center at Harvard in the 1990s had put on a similar event.

“My girlfriends, we always talk about what if we could use the stuff in each other’s closets. This is an opportunity for people to do this on a bigger scale,” said Alford. “It was the perfect opportunity to combine three things: socializing, getting free clothes, and contributing to a good cause,”

Marine said that the Women’s Center is planning more events to raise its profile and reach out to the community. According to Marine, spring will see a dinner series, a number of speakers on subjects ranging from financial management to masculinity, and a staged talent show.

“The best way to raise our profile on campus is by doing these things,” said Marine.

The “Naked Ladies Brunch” was co-sponsored by the Association of Black Harvard Women, of which Alford is the president; Students for Choice; the Women’s Leadership Project; Kappa Kappa Gamma; the Pleiades Society; and the Sabliere Society.