While out and about running errands this morning I listened to my local public radio station, KCUR. They had a great piece on Here and Now about the recent Bangladeshi factory collapse which killed 1,127 garment workers, and what Americans can do to make sure the money we spend on clothing goes to companies that ensure the people have safe working conditions.
Dara O’Rourke, co-founder of The Good Guide, which rates consumer goods on safety, health, green, and ethical standards, explains how our clothing is made and how consumers can make informed decisions about our purchases. He recommends tweeting our favorite brands to ask them to sign agreements that they will pay to make improvements to these crumbling factories. But companies like Walmart, The Gap, JcPenney, Kohl's, and Target so far have not signed such an agreement. Abercrombie & Fitch signed it, but they don't want fat people like me wearing their clothes. So what's a concerned, fat, naked American to do?
Will and I were talking about the Bangladeshi factory collapse the other day, and I said I wish I had it in me to learn how to sew so I could just make my own clothes. I try not to buy much of anything new, to save money for our family, but also to cut back on waste in general. Why not buy a shirt someone donated to a thrift shop instead of giving my money to companies I don't like for a brand new shirt I'm just going to end up spilling spaghetti sauce on anyway?
The problem is, someone in our neighborhood who is also a frugal shopper must wear the exact same size I do, because I have trouble finding a decent selection of clothes in my size at our thrift stores. Or else fat chicks hang on to their clothes disproportionately longer than skinny chicks do. What's the deal? Once we find something that actually fits we hang on to it til it turns to dust?
That's why I wish I could sew my own clothes, or at least buy smaller clothes at the thrift store and then add fabric to them so they fit me, but alas, when my seventh grade sewing teacher told me I was the worst student she'd ever had after she caught me playing basketball that evening against her kid's team even though I had pretended to be too sick that day to go to her class, I hung up my needle and thread and never looked back.
Throughout high school my mom sewed my clothes for me. My hippie taste clashed with the fashions for sale at Oak Park Mall in the eighties, but Mom kept me well-supplied in long skirts and bell-bottom pants until I was kicked out of the house at age eighteen for skipping too much school.
Once out on my own, my fat girl wardrobe began to shrink considerably. I currently have two hand-made dresses I bought. One I got at this cool store in Westport called It's a Beautiful Day. I love their clothes, but, again, it's hard to find a size big enough to fit my gargantuan ass, and they're a little expensive for my tight ass. The other one I ordered online. Even though I entered my measurements on the form, the dress is too small in the bust. I feel too self-conscious to wear it outside the house. Since it was made just for me I felt too bad to return it. Online shopping is a drag for hard-to-fit sizes.
So basically I just wear my clothes until they turn into rags. I'm about due to buy a new dress though, so I'll save up some money and head down to It's a Beautiful Day again soon. It would be so much cheaper and easier if I could just learn how to sew. At least when I buy a fifty dollar dress at It's a Beautiful Day I can tell myself I'm supporting a local artisan instead of a company that mistreats its garment workers. I don't mind paying a little extra for that peace of mind, knowing I'm contributing to the greater good of the planet.
Once I was riding in the car with Will and he turned right a block ahead of our street. I asked him why he does this since it uses more gas for us to drive around the block to get to our house. He explained that since the block ahead of ours has a turning lane, he uses it whenever there are cars behind him so they don't have to slow down unnecessarily.
"We have to pay a little more for the gas it takes to drive around the block, but think of all the brakes and gas wasted when those other cars behind us have to slow down for us to make the turn. If I use the turning lane, it's only affecting my gas use minimally, but it's better for the planet as a whole."
Hey, Will's a big-picture thinker who likes to tread lightly on the earth. Maybe I could sucker him into becoming my own personal dressmaker? Either that or I'm going to have to just stay home and live in my robe. Either way suits my style.