By Morgan Ginn
I cringe every time I walk past an H&M or when I compliment someone’s outfit and they tell me it’s from Forever 21. The reality is I know too much–I know the truth behind the fast fashion industry. I know that cheap prices are a facade and that there is a person behind every single product we purchase.
Whenever I pass a fast fashion retailer, I can’t help but think of the people who are being exploited so that these stores can exist. Behind every product there is a person. From the person working the cotton field, to those who wove the fabric, and all the way to the person who turned that fabric into a garment of clothing. I know that these people are working long hours in unfavorable working conditions and that they’re surely not getting paid enough to do so.
And for what?–for our consumerism?
I know the true cost of fashion but I haven’t always. You see, I used to be that *girl.
You know who I’m talking about, the girl with the closet full of clothes and the Forever 21 bags. The girl in the haul videos bragging about buying more for less. The girl with the fashion blog who keeps up with the trends. I was that *girl.
The reality is I didn’t know.
I didn’t know the effects that my consumerism was having on others. I never even stopped to think that there were people behind the products I was purchasing.
It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I first heard the words ‘ethical’ and ‘fashion’ put together. In my head, I always just assumed the clothing I bought was cheap because it was made by a machine that mass produced thousands of garments.
When someone first explained to me how the fashion industry was unethical, I didn’t want to believe it. I’d love to tell you that my heart was immediately opened to conscious consumerism but the truth is I didn’t want to learn more about slow fashion if it meant having to give up cheap prices and my closet full of clothes.
But once you know you can’t unknow. After watching documentaries such as The True Cost, you can’t wipe away the faces of factory workers and their children from your mind. You can’t let yourself forget about the price that others are paying for your consumerism.
I don’t despise people who aren’t conscious about their consumerism because I used to be one of them. By looking down on others we aren’t going to change anything.
Therefore we must strive to inform rather than to judge and to encourage rather than to discourage. That’s why the fashion revolution is so important. People need to know–we must learn how to value transparency and to ask questions.
We can’t be afraid to care about an issue because it requires us to make changes and sacrifices. When you truly care, isn’t that the only possible outcome?
It has taken years for me to get to a point where my passion for social justice outweighs my desire for material goods. I’ve slipped up and I’ve made mistakes but it’s a journey and I’m still on it.
If you’re on a journey of your own towards giving a damn, check out Courtney’s post tomorrow about her journey into ethical fashion and her advice for getting started.
**Girl** The word girl is used here due to the author’s gender being female. This is not used to mean that men are not also capable of being unconscious consumers because all people are, female or male. We must all strive for transparency and learn to ask questions.