I think all people are secretly feminists. Feminists want equal rights for all genders. I mean, who doesn’t want equal rights for everybody? Some people think of something dirty when they hear the word feminist. I don’t understand this. And also, calling yourself a feminist is just the very beginning. It’s the first step and after that you can evolve your mindset and learn more. But feminism isn’t just about your values. It’s about actions too. Today I want to talk about feminism and it’s relationship to fast fashion.
Mindset vs. Actions
I mean, values are great, but if we don’t act alike it won’t do the whole job. Cognitive dissonance, I see it all the time. People saying they love animals, but eat them. People who think pesticides suck, but don’t buy organic products. People who are against slavery, but buy fast fashion. That’s why I feel actions matter. You can’t be against something but then financially support it. That way it will never be solved.
For me, the same goes for feminism. If you want equal pay for all genders, you can’t support companies who don’t pay equal because then you won’t make a change. If you want women to be able to wear whatever they want, you can’t vote for parties which prohibit women from wearing a niqaab. If you want gay people to feel safe in this country, you can’t curse with f****t. Then your actions are simply not in line with your values. That’s why I want to talk about fast fashion today. Supporting fast fashion companies simply isn’t a feminist thing to do.
Just a little fresh up here: what it fast fashion again? I wrote an entire post about why it sucks and you can read that here. Fast fashion companies are companies which sell clothing for very little money. At the same time they do this fast, there’s a new collection almost every other week. And very important: they have no labels. No organic fabric label, no fair trade label, nothing. You can’t find where, by who and how the clothing was made exactly. Examples? Zara, Boohoo, H&M, Primark, that kind of parties. If you want to avoid fast fashion brand you can use this tool: Good on You. Just type in a brand name, the website shows you if it is sustainable and ethical or not. If not, Good on You gives you great alternatives.
As a feminist today, I fight for women’s rights and queer rights. The people who suffer most from the fast fashion industry are women. They are the ones working long hours for little money under terrible conditions. According to campaign Labour Behind The Label, approximately 80% of garment workers are women aged 18-35. We can only help these women by boycotting fast fashion brands. Instead, we buy slow, sustainable and ethical fashion. This lift women out of poverty, creates a healthier environment and provides them a better life. This then again makes better chances for their children because they can afford an education.
If we want to do even better, we should support female or queer owned fashion brands. It’s usually men at the top of businesses, that’s unfair. We should give women more power. Lifting women from poverty gives them opportunities to get an education. This is great for the women, but also for the environment. It is scientifically proven; the longer a woman follows an education, the less children she has. Poor women have more children and this way the poverty continues to exist. More education means less children and a better life. The difference between an uneducated woman and a woman with 12 years of education is four to five children. Also, the amount of women dying when giving birth falls, less infants die, there are less forced marriages, there is less HIV/aids or malaria, etc. etc. Giving women an education has been proven to be highly effective way to decrease emissions. It fights climate change, but at the same time it makes women more resilient against climate change as well.
Yes, ethical and sustainable fashion is more expensive. That’s the whole point. Think you can’t afford this? Think again. Most Dutch people have to swap some luxury in order to spend more money on clothing. One holiday instead of two. Going biking instead of by car. Cooking at home instead of going out for dinner. There are options. The key is also to buy less. One ethical t-shirt from good quality material instead of 10 cheap t-shirts from Primark. Did you know that the average Dutch person owns 173 pieces of clothing?
I know some people really don’t have the money. Not everybody in the Netherlands has privileges. Then secondhand clothing is a good solution. Secondhand clothing is way better than fast fashion. I usually buy secondhand too. As long as I don’t support fast fashion brands I’m a happy feminist.