Clotheslines of our lives

A few more shirts were completed for the Laredo Clothesline Project this last month. The Laredo project has been around since… oh, about 1998 or so. It’s main focus is to create awareness of violence against women – all kinds. The original project has a color code for the types of violence women may want to highlight but because Laredo’s project operates only from donations, any t-shirt color is used.

The shirts are color coded to show the form of abuse and whether the victim survived the abuse they experienced.

White represents women who died because of violence;
Yellow or beige represents battered or assaulted women;
Red, pink, and orange are for survivors of rape and sexual assault;
Blue and green t-shirts represent survivors of incest and sexual abuse;
Purple or lavender represents women attacked because of their sexual orientation;
Black is for women attacked for political reasons.

Most of the shirts are created in group which gives the women participating a chance to talk and express themselves, talk about their successes and process what they have gone through. I think most people think that exhibiting the Clothesline Project is the strongest part of what it does but I disagree – it is definitely the process of putting in a visual or written form what you feel, what you think, what you are going through.

The Laredo Clothesline had a major blip in 2008 after it had about 100 shirts together and had traveled to Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, it was stolen – but in Laredo. Not that the project itself was stolen but the vehicle it was in was stolen. One would think something would happen to it in shipment to other cities but no, it had to be in Laredo. So the new Clothesline Project is only a couple of years old.

What is remarkable is that the major difference between the old and the new project is in the messages relayed. The first project had many messages of a raw pain and stories of violence in the present tense. History will tell you that when the Clothesline Project started around the same time that Casa de Misericordia (956-712-9590) and when the SCAN Sexual Assault Services & Information (1-800-355-7226) were gaining strength. The shirts of today were created with the cooperation of Casa de Misericordia Women’s Shelter and tend to reflect so much hope and more happiness despite the violence of the past. Interesting, no?

If you wanted to catch the next showing of the Clothesline Project, it will be exhibited at the Domestic Violence Conference being held at Texas A&M International University on October 7, 2010. Interested in attending the conference? Shoot Marylou Ibarra an email at for registration, topic and other information.

If you are a woman who wants to add her own experience to the Clothesline Project can submit a shirt. Identifying information is asked to not be included – all shirts exhibited are done so anonymously. Any language is acceptable, in Laredo, that usually means Spanish and Spanglish and that is one of the main reasons that this particular project travels to other places wanting to start their own Clothesline Project.


About Que Fregados

Que Fregados is a quirky look at little things that strike us funny in Laredo and the unique Latino culture. Suggestions and comments are welcome. You can also email to
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