March 26, 2009

Clothes and Morals

When one is broke, yet in pursuit of happiness, she tends to purchase more cheaply produced clothing and goods than when one is rich, in pursuit of happiness, and inclined to spend freely.

I went to a Wal-Mart yesterday to buy some tees. Yes, dear readers, I've moved from Bloomies to Wal-Mart for stocking wardrobe essentials without skipping a beat. I bought a few tees, noting they read "Made in India."

As I pulled on a shirt in the dressing room, I wondered about the girl who had sewn it. Was she young and forced into labor? Had she perhaps been raped and forced into a life of fear and servitude and given, like, stale bread for producing this? Do you think I am crazy to be imagining such things in the dressing room? I have never investigated the source of the things I buy, nor researched how to do that.

I started thinking that maybe I should not be buying this stuff. Especially after seeing Slumdog Millionaire. What about the stuff I buy that is made in Myanmar or China?

After coming home, I picked up the March 22 Parade newspaper magazine insert. Feature story: "The World's 10 Worst Dictators," which announced Nos. 4 and 6 are Than Shwe and Hu Jintao, of Myanmar and China, respectively. (Worst, China just edged out Japan as being my number one creditor. Speaking for my country, that is.)

Being a little bit or even a lot broke is an awful excuse for buying in a manner that supports immorality (or crime, slavery and poverty). But is buying something made super cheaply in another country supporting poverty-level wages?

I recently posted a Hall of Inspiration on my Facebook page of eight people who are my personal heros, beginning with John Woolman, a Quaker activist in the 1700s, to Denver Moore, a present-day 72-year-old and former Louisiana slave—during the 1960s!

A friend commented on my page, "Love your Hall of Inspiration. Now I know who John Woolman is." So I Googled to see what she may have discovered online. Indeed, I read that Woolman refused to wear colored clothing because, apparently, slaves were the producers of dye.

It would be awful to think that three centuries later, I might be joining the trend against that one little standard Woolman took. (Woolman did much more than wear beige clothing, by the way. The man has been called the father of the abolitionist movement.)

1 comment:

  1. Good thoughts. A few years ago my college was collecting clothing labels for an artist to make a quilt of. I think you will find it interesting.