By Morgan Politzer
Junior finance major and UMD Club Swim Team model Gavin Adams celebrated his first place victory after strutting down the runway for the sixth annual Sex Week Condom Fashion Show competition.
The event is a part of Sex Week at Maryland, which serves as a creative way to destigmatize conversations about safe sex and sexual health. Participants in the fashion show were challenged to design an outfit using 1,000 condoms. For this year’s theme, “Proud and Protected,” each entry was ranked out of five and judged for the message, design and level of creativity.
“We want to open the conversation so people can learn in an open environment,” Sex Week chairman and sophomore cell biology and molecular genetics major Carly Rosenfeld said.
Several representatives for organizations on campus participated in the events this year, including Ballroom at Maryland, Kappa Lambda Xi, Leonardtown 241, Alpha Kappa Psi, the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) and UMD Club Swim.
“We were thinking about Latin dresses, because we wanted to make a dress that was like a competition dress we use,” freshman physics and astronomy double major and Ballroom at Maryland designer Kate Minker said. “We made a fringe dress, and we did actually end up ‘rhinestoning’ it, which was a nice touch.”
Rosenfeld said that because sex education varies at different high schools, the fashion show is meant to teach incoming freshmen in particular that having sex can be safe and healthy.
“We’re at an age where people start living together on campus and in dorm rooms, and [are] having sex more often,” Rosenfeld said. “There are some high schools that don’t talk about it at all, and promote abstinence-only education as the only way to prevent pregnancy and STIs — which isn’t true. A lot of people have no idea what they’re doing and have all these questions, and then end up putting themselves at risk.”
The sexual health education program within the University Health Center worked closely on the show with Sex Week organizers.
“What [students] did miss out on in high school, they can get here,” said Brittany Shapiro, a staff member at the University Health Center. “We have a very sex-positive approach to sex education. It’s not just geared toward people who are having sex, but also people who want to practice abstinence, or anyone that just wants to take control of their sexual health. And we’re here to empower them to do that.”
Sex Week at Maryland was originally partnered with the Health Center when it was founded in 2013, but it has since become its own student-led club. The fashion show was originally created for World AIDS Day, but for the last four years has coincided with National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, according to Sex Week co-founder and former UMD student Sree Sinha.