CLOTHES: We want it, and they suffer to provide it!
I wholeheartedly believe that every single human being on this beautiful Earth deserves to be treated equally and respected. Being a student at Hollins University has opened my eyes to the social justice issues that are prevalent in the world day after day, and that the fight for equality and union is still going on, and will continue to persist for a very long time. However, I unintentionally blinded myself from seeing beyond the visible issues that are happening in the USA, instead of trying to learn about global scale problems that interconnect me to people across the world. I’ve seen poverty with my own two eyes when I visited Guatemala, and I have heard terrible stories of mistreatment and underpayment in employments, yet I have involuntarily and unconsciously ignored the fact that what I wear is tied to very sad, inhuman, and horrific roots.
Clothing, it has become a necessity and a want. People go out of their way to buy new clothing when they already own enough. It’s difficult to wrap one’s head around the idea that by shopping we are actually hurting people, by encouraging the mistreatment of others. As humans, we have become accustomed to buying without thinking or considering who made the clothing that we put on our bodies. We are comfortable with just knowing that the people that make those items are being paid and are supposedly being treated properly, based on the information presented by the people whom run those companies and industries. However, the women making our clothing are not only being paid way below the minimum pay wage, but they are also being forced to work under very harsh and unsafe conditions. Yes, they are being forced to work under those conditions, because they are not taking those jobs because they want to or because they don’t care that the building they are working in may fall on top of them at any moment. They are working in those broken-down facilities because it is the only option that they have, so that they can supply the basic necessitates of food and water for their family. People can easily say that as consumers they are giving those hardworking women jobs, and providing them with the financial accommodations that they need to live, but those words are justifications that they make so that the remorse and disappointment that they feel towards themselves, doesn’t consume them to the point of having to change their comfortable lives, to one that makes them more consciously aware of the pain of others.
The consumers and suppliers of clothing may be thousands of miles apart, and that may make their relationship unimportant, which in turn makes the interconnectedness between them an invisible tie. It’s easier to separate oneself from the pain and harm that is being pressed upon another individual, if we pretend to not be part of the problem that is destroying that person’s life. Mostly women, but men too, are waking up each day to work a job that shows them that their safety and life is worth nothing. Women and men across the globe are forced to make clothing in a quick and productive manner, making these diligent and humble individuals feel like their only purpose in a company, is to work like a machine, and like it’s ok for them to be treated like one too. While looking through my closet I found these few pieces of clothing:
1. Adidas black pants: Made in Vietnam
2. H&M Sport shirt: Made in China
3. Aeropostale jeans: Made in China
4. H&M jeans: Made in Bangladesh
5. Forever 21 blouse: Made in Vietnam
6. Faded Glory long-sleeve blouse: Made in Nicaragua
7. Forever 21 blouse: Made in Philippines
8. Worthington shorts: Made in Indonesia.
I was not surprised to see that most, if not all, of my clothes were made in a different country. Up until now, I thought that having clothes that were made in a different country wasn’t a problem, and that it was actually really cool that the United States bought things from a different country, which meant that jobs were being provided for others. Now I realize that instead of being helpful, I am part of the destruction that has invaded the lives of people that are working in broken down buildings without a break and with little pay. I am feeding the vicious industry that works people until they are depleted of every ounce of energy that their body has. It may seem that the clothing/fashion industry is helping the economy, and while that may be true, it is even more of a truth, that the people making the clothes that drive this industry, are being un-humanized and objectified to please OUR WANTS, YOUR WANTS, MY WANTS.