Feminism. This has so many meanings to each and every individual. I follow the definition that feminism is pushing for equality of man and woman. I also believe that there are so many men and women that are looking to create change in order to see better futures and growth for women all over the world, but there is something hypocritical about being a feminist yet being a fast fashion consumer.
The harsh, unethical, and disturbing treatment of women in their own workplace is being funded by our consumer demand and complacency in our current lifestyle. It’s such a struggle for me to push for little victories in my life as a woman with rights, while knowing that I, and actual feminist activists are contributing to a society where women are treated like animals without thinking twice. It is time to deconstruct feminism in the fashion industry, so maybe it will push us all to start thinking about the rights of women from a different perspective.
Feminism is Not a Trend
One of my fashion professors sent us an article for class that had moved me. One section in particular made me truly think about the hypocrisy that is present within our nation and others about creating the positive change we all wish to see in the world. A blogger, Sarah Spellings, wrote an article entitled “What I learned When I Gave Up Fast Fashion” where she tells her story of cutting out fast fashion for a year, cold turkey! It's crazy to think about just cutting yourself off from your normal way of life and seeing how you do! In her story she said,
“My year of sustainable fashion was essentially a quest to find light in the fashion industry after a year of feeling disillusioned. Of all things, what catalyzed me was all the feminist slogan T-shirts that appeared after the 2016 election. I found them so hollow, with their empty message of “empowerment” tied to a disposable product that was probably made by young women being paid very little money in a factory on the other side of the world. To me, the shirts summed up the worst inclinations of the industry. I don’t think fashion is frivolous, but those were, and I wanted to find something sartorial that had an actual, concrete impact.”
I can relate to Sarah’s view because we both want success for feminist ideals, yet buying a T-shirt that says a message of empowerment on it, may be doing the exact opposite for women out of our personal circles and even overseas. We will see the direct impact of how our shirt may start a conversation about feminism in our lives, yet it was taken at the expense of a woman that we cannot see or meet. The message behind Sarah’s statement is the true meaning of “actions speak louder than words,” even if we don’t exactly feel the direct impact. Although wearing a T-shirt that says feminist on it is not a bad thing, depending on where the garment was made or produced it could be majorly hypocritical. Spreading awareness is what we love to do in order to use our activist voices for good, which is great of course! The activist voice is amazing, but without proper research it could be quite damaging. Sometimes passing up the use of the ill-researched activist voice (buying the fast fashion T-shirt,) and using our activist action, will make all of the difference. No matter how loud we scream the word feminist without explanation on the fast fashion that tears women down, we, as in women around the globe, will still be unheard.
I love using fashion as a means of self-expression and wearing clothing that says a personal stance on something is really cool! However, the issue of unfair working conditions, rape, sexual harassment, physical battery, underpay, and hazardous environments for both the workers and wildlife, seems to be a little more urgent than my new chocolate brown tube top. I am currently on my journey of consuming less and focusing on conscious consumerism, so I encourage you all to truly give it a try. It is really hard to push aside our needs for the sake of others that we have never seen or met before, but that is what holistic and global feminism is.
I will share some brands soon that work specifically with women overseas that were struggling with some of these awful conditions and empower them through their new ethical manufacturing processes. Some amazing products are created this way that I know you guys will love!
The Power of Conscious Consumerism
One of the biggest things that I hear throughout all of the craziness in today’s world is what it means to be an activist. We all for the most part want to create change and be a part of that change, but everyone will only go as far as their comfort zone or interest level will take them, which is of course fine! No one should feel forced to become outspoken about something if that is not how they wish to perform their activism. You don’t have to prove to anyone that you are creating good besides yourself. You can create such great change by simply being more of a conscious consumer in your day to day. The easiest and most effective way to address the global issue is to simply shop smarter instead of giving into the fast fashion blackhole. Like I said before, no one is perfect, yet if we each switched one bad purchase each day, I wonder what we could create!
The fast fashion world obviously spans far beyond the mistreatment of workers and melts into the detrimental environmental impacts as well. The fashion industry is the second highest polluter in the world and will continue down that path without a shift in consumer demand. The sustainability rant will be for another time, but most unethical practices are not just effecting one issue, but many all at once. We can create the change we wish to see by acknowledging and adjusting to what we are willing to contribute to the end goal!
Thanks for listening to my rant and I hope we can come together to recognize the effects of hypocrisy in the fashion industry. Some companies just want to make a sale, and if that means tearing down workers around the globe, they will do it if there is a consumer ready to buy! Let's make feminism a lifestyle instead of a trend together and see what we can create!
April Ann :)