today i want to introduce to you something we call the fair dare. i first tried it last summer, we all revisited it this summer, and would like to carry it through this fall... and we'd love for you to join us this season!
first of all, what is the fair dare? to give you the answer, i really need to back up. when i was about thirteen, we found an article about a little girl named Dolly. Dolly was a factory worker slave for a clothing company that paid her basically nothing for her obscene hours of work. she lived in a tiny rented room with eight other women. this story haunted me for several reasons: Dolly was making clothing that i bought. she was my age. she led a life no one should have to lead. (i tried to find the article for you, but instead of finding the article, i found a new one that revealed that she is no longer a factory worker and is instead attending school!)
although i knew about this, i can't say it completely changed my life. what ultimately changed my decision-making was a night last spring, driving home from work with jane. before this, she had been educating herself and then educating me through our conversations. i can't say i changed too much. the stories made me ache, but when i came home from the mall with forever 21 jewelry, i knew what she was thinking. jane has never been mean about it; she has always been gentle. she wanted me to be educated about who i was supporting. this night was different. she told me about a video she had watched about a little boy in a factory. they were essentially slaves. if they cried or simply yawned, oily cloth would be stuffed into their mouths and they would be beaten with rubber tubes. these boys were forced to work 28 consecutive hours. i remember driving home in the dark, tearing up and feeling so angry and frustrated.
why do people have to do this to other people? (why do i let it happen?)
why does this go on? (why do i keep supporting it with my purchases?)
what am i supposed to do about it? (well... stop buying sweatshop made clothes, thus stop supporting it?)
but it's too hard, i thought…and sometimes still think. when i could make an item or thrift it, i think: it takes too much time and effort for me. (but i know who is taking too much time and effort to make it for me.)
what am i supposed to say to that? (that oh well, it's their problem? that i am the master/consumer they are serving?)
i shot the dare out of my mouth. i told my mom and shrugged angrily, that for one season, that summer, i wouldn't buy clothing made in sweatshops.
because every buy is a vote, a vote to tell someone to keep doing what you're doing. (also here)
the dare started with anger and frustration. (it takes a certain amount of anger and frustration to change things.) it began because i did not want to do it. i started the dare because i wanted to prove to myself that yes, i can do it, and yes, i can still look pretty darn good. so one night, on a whim, in a dare to myself, i said that i wouldn't buy anything new made by slaves/sweatshops that summer.
i wanted to prove to myself that it wasn't hopeless. i learned that if you really care about something or someone, you'll do something to change it, even if you don't really want to.
to be honest, this dare scared and daunted me. what made me the most frustrated was that i shouldn't have to dare myself. i should see a problem that hurts other people and want to care for them and change it- especially because it's my-our- problem to fix. i guess there's a question i needed to answer. i care about people. i care about clothes. but which one do i care about more?
what i found that summer, is that this dare is fun, it's a really fun challenge. it makes my purchases valuable and exciting. they might take a little bit more time and effort, but that's what makes them something i actually love and value, instead of something i just kinda sorta like. it also changed the way i think about people. i feel much more active in my beliefs. i am more aware and now i like discussing world issues.
so in reality, making this dare has made me care about people more than clothes. it has also made me care about my clothes a lot more. it has shown me that it is so possible to have cool clothes that hurt no one in the process of making and buying them.
i've done this for two summers and i want to get a tiny bit more serious and do it for another season. are you in for just one season, to prove to yourself that you can do it, that you can fight against slavery and poor work conditions? one season. three months. not a big deal. if more people do this, we can actually change things!
if you would like more education on this, start with these two short articles: six things you should know about your clothes and five things you didn't know about your clothes . you will notice that slavery is not the only damage that fast fashion does. you'll learn about chemicals and the environment. doing this one thing this season could affect all of that! pretty amazing!
let's fight slavery and look good doing it! are you in? (next we'll talk about how to take on this dare in a way that feels manageable yet somewhat challenging for you.)