How a White Dress Inspired Tanika Gray Valbrun to Create a Community for Women Suffering from Fibroids
Before founding The White Dress Project, Tanika Gray Valbrun suffered from fibroids for years, dealing with a host of taxing physical and emotional challenges. Tanika was introduced to fibroids earlier than most – her mother lost two sets of twins due to fibroids, and she herself was diagnosed with them in her teens. After battling her fibroids for years, Tanika finally underwent a myomectomy to remove 27 fibroids from her uterus.
After her recovery, Tanika decided it was time to help other women who might be suffering. Up to 80 percent of women will experience fibroids by age 501, so she knew there were other women out there with valuable stories to tell. It was her mission to empower women to use their voices and encourage self-advocacy when it comes to health. In 2014, Tanika met with a Georgia state representative to officially declare July as Fibroid Awareness Month, which became the perfect foundation for her platform.
Tanika realized something that would become integral to her platform: she didn’t have a single piece of white clothing in her closet.
“I hadn’t been able to wear white, said Tanika. “And something like that seems so trivial, but for me it was another reminder that I had the mental anxiety of not being able to participate in things.” Tanika avoided wearing white out of embarrassment and fear of bleeding through her clothes. She knew she needed to do something that would encourage women to seek the treatment they need, so they wouldn’t be afraid to start living their lives to the fullest.
The White Dress Project
That year, Tanika founded the White Dress Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote national awareness of fibroids, support research, and bring together a community of women to empower one another. The white dress became a symbol for their community, as it signified a key moment in Tanika’s recovery – the moment she finally wore a white dress with confidence. Now, the white dress is a symbol of strength and power to other women, demonstrating that advocacy and speaking out can help them take control of menstrual health issues.
The White Dress Project has given a voice to women who have felt like they needed to suffer in silence. Remember, each woman’s journey with fibroids is individual, and if you think you may be suffering from fibroids, talk with your doctor about potential treatment options.
Do you have your own story to share? You can share it directly with The White Dress Project, or join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag, #WhyIWearWhite.
1“Uterine fibroids.” Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. February 6, 2017. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/uterine-fibroids