I’m tired of women constantly feeling terrible about themselves for not fitting into clothing, not looking like the models in the advertisements, and not being able to afford the clothing they want, or have the access to even buy it.
At the wholistic level, the clothing industry is bad on a lot of levels. Fast fashion stores like H&M, Gap, and Forever 21 exploit their clothing manufacturers across the globe. They pay them terrible wages, subject them to horrendous working conditions, and make workers work tremendous hours.
These leading brands are also often found in malls, places where big brands out-compete smaller stores and sell to a large portion of the US.
Even brands that try to support a more inclusive fashion industry or empower women are only accessible in high-traffic malls- places not accessible to people of low income. Not only that, but companies trying to be better, like Aerie, are super expensive. Even with their new campaign to support body-positivity, how can it really be body-positive when their sizing usually ends at XL? To me, that’s not super ethical.
Though there are ethical clothing brands that pay their workers a living wage and attempt at supporting local economies and surrounding ecology, they’re usually really expensive and not size-inclusive.
At an advertising level, these brands don’t make or model clothing that fits most women they try to sell to.
Though it may not seem like a big deal, these brands lead our clothes industry, and it really impacts what we see day to day. All-in-all, big corporations that “cater to women” really don’t at any corner of feminist ideology. They don’t care about the people who make their clothing, aren’t accessible to women who can’t get to where they sell, aren’t the most affordable, and advertise and create clothing that doesn’t represent the bodies of all women. These corporations don’t care about us.
Other than being apathetic, businesses operating on the basis of empathy provide dignity and autonomy to women. Though not all brands are perfect, we can try to invest in some fair trade basics, and support carbon-neutral ways to get clothes like thrifting and swapping clothes with friends. We can’t always avoid the fast fashion industry, but being conscious about how corporations hurt us and trying to act not in support of them gives us power to change the industry.
Isn’t this kind of like survivor-defined advocacy?
Survivor-defined advocacy is a cool feminist thing that gives survivors (us!) power and helps us recognize ourselves as the experts for their own situations. Aren’t WE the ones buying the clothes and looking at the advertisements? Shouldn’t relationships between corporations and women can be handled best in a similar way to survivor-defined advocacy, in which we women are leaders in protecting and advocating for the media and products that they desire?
It’s time for us to rewrite this narrative between women/womyn and the media and clothing companies. We are beautiful and awesome and amazing!
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