Prevention Meets Fashion to host annual condom fashion show

Members of Prevention Meets Fashion.

The organization Prevention Meets Fashion (PMF) will host its fifth annual condom fashion show on Feb. 20, 2022 via Zoom. PMF provides sexual health education in Black and LGBTQ+ communities through fashion, advocacy and community engagement. 

Participants of the fashion show will flaunt their sartorial looks, which are typically constructed from condoms, condom packaging or similar materials. But attendees will not only be in for a fashion show; they will learn about safe sex, HIV and STI prevention methods, how to communicate with their partners in a healthy way, and about themselves.   

“Our condom fashion shows have always been about destigmatizing conversations about condoms, safer sex and sexual health,” PMF Founder and Executive Director Nhakia Outland said in an email. “Our goal each year is to offer a safer space for BIPOC and LGBTQ communities to have crucial conversations about sex education using a sex-positive approach.”

Attendees can also enjoy spoken word poetry performances from members of Temple University’s Babel Poetry Collective.  

The theme of this year’ fashion show is “come as you are,” which feeds into the organization’s continuous work to underscore the role that authenticity plays in daily life, especially in Black and Brown LGBTQ communities. 

“The complexity and nuances that this community has around the topic of authenticity is often overlooked, as is the intersectional understanding of people of color, Black and LGBTQ [people],” Outland said.  

When people don’t think they have the option to live authentically, especially queer and trans people of color, Outland explained, they can feel vulnerable. As such, they may not be able to access conversations or education around setting boundaries in various areas of their lives, including sexually, fostering healthy relationships, enhancing their confidence or working on their self-esteem.   

“PMF uses fashion as an intentional tool to engage communities who have been historically excluded from sex-positive conversations,” Outland said. “Historically, for Black and LGBTQ+ communities, science has been used against us, to us but not used for us. [Science has been used] to pathologize, ignore nuances or to make excuses for the lack of resources, services and information about our health and well-being.”

The state of Pennsylvania does not mandate medically accurate and comprehensive sex education in schools. Education is often left to organizations such as PMF, who help educate minority communities about safe sex, reproductive health and healthy romantic relationships. 

To produce the fashion show, PMF is collaborating with ONE Condoms and DJ Akomplish, who will provide music at the event. The organization is also working with two programs that serve local LGBTQ youth: Young Artists Program and Youth Care Team. Young Artists Program fosters personal growth and social change through art in safe, affirming spaces for teens, with an emphasis on BIPOC and LGBTQ youth. Youth Care Team is a program of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which refers LGBTQ and cis/het youth to sexual and mental health services, and provides screenings for anxiety, depression and sexual health. In addition, PMF interns Hayley Moore, Miarah Palmer, Taryn Wright and Holli Farrow are contributing to the show.

“This was important for PMF because when we began the condom fashion show in 2018, it was intended for Black and LGBTQ youth and their families,” Outland said. 

Some of PMF’s regular programs include the Affirming Fashion program, a community clothing donation initiative that provides new and used clothing to anyone experiencing financial woes, but geared toward BIPOC and LGBTQ people. The organization also offers a sex education program, support groups and a STEAM Fashion program that teaches Black and/or LGBTQ people how to make clothing based on concepts from science, tech, engineering, art and math.

Tickets are available on Eventbrite. For general donations to PMF, visit: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/prevention-meets-fashion/.