Cassidy ElDarazi poses by the Threads that Give donation box in the Interfaith Centre in the Stan Grad Centre in Calgary on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. ElDarazi is the current president of the Pride+ club at SAIT. (Photo by Pamela Shah/The Emery Weal)

A SAITSA club, called Pride+, is launching a clothing drive to battle a mental health disorder that impacts many LGBTQ+ students.

Threads That Give, a clothing donation drive, will launch this Saturday, May 14 at Stanley Park.

The initiative is a part of Pride+’s event, Threads That Thrive.

This series of events are free workshops that teaches LGBTQ+ students how to alter their own clothes, such as hemming, measuring, fabricating, and repairing torn or damaged clothes.

The aim of Threads That Give is to collect clothes and teach at-risk LGBTQ+ individuals how to tailor clothes that fits their bodies better. This is to help spread awareness about body dysmorphia.

“I suffer with body dysmorphia,” says Cassidy ElDarazi, the president of Pride+.

“I’ve always struggled with how I felt about myself in the mirror and how my body was perceived by other people, to the point where it turned into social anxiety.”

ElDarazi said the goal is to counter the one-size-fits-all idea that is perpetrated by companies that mass-produce clothing.

Comfort in all shapes

Cassidy ElDarazi retrieves and folds clothes that have been donated to Pride+ in the Interfaith Centre in Calgary on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. The clothes were donated for the Threads that Give clothing drive. (Photo by Pamela Shah/The Emery Weal)

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 1 in 50 people suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). This leads to severe emotional distress and difficulty functioning daily.

“Since I, a cisgender man, experience [body dysmorphia], I can’t imagine what somebody who’s body doesn’t match their gender expression or gender identity goes through,” said ElDarazi.

“That’s why this is important to me.”

The event’s mission is to highlight that anyone, LGBTQ+ or otherwise, can learn how to make and alter their clothes to better suit their unique bodies.

“There’re so many clothes that get wasted. We don’t need to purchase new clothes; we can use old ones. It’s more sustainable that way,” said Hana Hossain, Pride+ director of communications. 

“Threads That Thrive is a very unique opportunity for SAIT students because gender dysmorphia and body dysphoria is not talked about a lot, it can be very uncomfortable for people to talk about.”

Hossain says that many students are uncomfortable talking about body dysmorphia because they’re not exposed to it; therefore, they’re not comfortable talking about it.

“There are students on campus that are non-binary and trans. These people exist. These people will be here,” said Hossain.

Threads That Give

Threads That Give is one event in a series of mental health workshops for Threads That Thrive.

The first workshop was hosted last March at My Sewing Room in Calgary’s southwest, who is a partner of Pride+. 

Students can donate clothes in a donation box outside of the Interfaith Centre at room MB305 in the Stan Grad Centre on SAIT’s campus.

ElDarazi encourages students who want to participate in future events to join SAITSA’s Pride+ club.

This is the first year that Pride+ is initiating Threads That Thrive. The club is looking for more funding to expand its ambitions beyond SAIT.

ElDarazi’s goal is to transform Threads That Thrive into a charity corporation that can expand its influence and resources city-wide.

Such ambitions have already led to networking with local businesses. Businesses will be receiving “thank you packages” if they donate clothing to the club.

Cassidy ElDarazi sits inside the Interfaith Centre in the Stan Grad Centre in Calgary on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. ElDarazi is the current president of the Pride+ club at SAIT. (Photo by Pamela Shah/The Emery Weal)

Pamela Shah

Pamela Shah is the editor-in-chief at The Emery Weal. She has two degrees in history, one bachelor's and one master's. Shah has lived in Denmark for three years and Germany for six months.

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