In honor of World AIDS Day on December 1, Designers Against AIDS founder, Ninette Murk, recently shared insight on the importance of safe sex education, the new DAA clothing collaborations, and her project Beauty Without Irony.
A former fashion journalist, Ninette Murk has been at the forefront of AIDS awareness and safe sex education for over a decade. When we last spoke with Ninette in 2011, Designers Against AIDS had started a new campaign with Lady Gaga, opened a new education center in Belgium, and was busy with H&M on a new clothing collaboration.
Over the past year, however, several positive changes have taken DAA in a new direction. After ending a five year relationship with H&M, Murk and DAA are now working with An Lemmens + JBC.
“Thanks to our collaboration with H&M, we were able to open our education center,” Ninette told The Deadbolt about the reward of key relationships. “It’s made it easier to find new partners.”
One of those partners is Belgian clothing retailer, JBC. TV personality An Lemmens and French Singer, Lio, both designed collections for JBC as part of the DAA collaboration. As a result, DAA recently released their second collection with JBC, one that’s already selling out in stores.
Through fashion and clothing, however, Ninette Murk is able to raise awareness about HIV and spread the word about the importance of safe sex. Those same mediums afford Murk the ability to address other issues as well.
On January 1, 2013, Ninette and her team will relaunch Beauty Without Irony as a way to educate people on everything from ecology and anti-bullying to increasing self-confidence in young people.
“We want to use pop culture to make campaigns and raise awareness about issues that young people care about,” said Murk about spreading positive messages.
Designers Against AIDS, along with partners Fashion Against AIDS and Models Against AIDS, works all year long to educate young people on the importance of safe sex.
Over the years, DAA has worked with such names as Rihanna, Katy Perry, Timbaland, Katharine Hamnett, Marc Jacobs, Dita Von Teese, Cyndi Lauper, and Tokio Hotel on various Fashion Against AIDS campaigns and collections.
Beyond the celebrity support, Murk believes that young people are empowered to make the right choices for themselves when it comes to safe sex.
“If they’re old enough to have sex, they’re old enough to have safe sex,” added Murk about the power of self-responsibility. “They can decide that for themselves.”
Ninette Murk just recently launched the Superheroes Against Aids Facebook game, a questionnaire about safe sex practices and potential decisions. At the end of the game, users are awarded their own superhero based on the answers.
“They learn from that,” said Murk about the game, “from the different situations, what they would do, and what kinds of possible answers there are. Or maybe they find another answer that isn’t even in the game.”
But when it comes to action in daily life, Ninette also believes that making safe sex a priority is rooted in an individual’s self esteem.
“If you don’t have self esteem,” Murk continued, “and your new boyfriend says, ‘I don’t want to use a condom,’ you might agree with him because you’re afraid he’ll go to someone else.”
Murk’s belief that young people can make responsible decisions is the true heartbeat of her safe sex message. Since the internet has become such an invaluable tool in our busy day-to-day activities, young people have a powerful resource at their fingertips.
“Today’s youth can make changes,” Murk elaborated with enthusiasm. “It’s so handy that we can have this advice on the internet, everybody can see it.”