Coolest thing happened to me this afternoon. I was going through my normal Wednesday afternoon carpool route, just like any other day. My fifteen year old daughter emerged from the front of her high school campus with a wave of similarly skinny-jeans-and-cutesie-tee-shirt-wearing teens, piled herself and her backpack into the car, and reached for her phone and the radio (like I mentioned: 15 year old). She looked particularly nice today, with two french braids framing her pretty brown face and sporting a gray 3/4 sleeve top with navy pinstripes and cute little front pocket and wide neckline detail. So I told her . . .
Me: "You look super cute today, sweetie!"
my girl: "Thanks! I got this at Forever 21. This is the one that was only 4 dollars." Pause. Wheels turning. Facial expression changing.
Me: Scrunch my nose up a bit. And make a teeny noise; small, but unavoidable.
my girl: Knowing look in my direction. "Yeah. I know now."
Me: "That makes it worse, right? The cheaper it is. Some kid probably made it."
my girl: "Yeah, I don't like to think about it. It's so bad."
Here's the thing, friends. You, who are just now learning about all this fashion industry mess. You who, like me, super enjoy getting fresh new items and lots of them (made possible by the price point) I feel you. I feel your pain. And I feel your desire to un-learn any harsh realities that are popping up regarding your super cute (super affordable!!) big corporate store tee. I was right there with you several years back. I heard just the very tip of the iceberg of what might be going on in the fashion production industry and was worried. Kinda didn't wanna know. Thinking, "I can't afford to buy a white tee-shirt from some online, fair-trade shop for forty bucks (and have to wait a week to get it to boot!) when I could get the same darn thing right this second down the street at my favorite crimson themed mecca!" Believe me, this was not something I wanted to deal with, y'all.
But I had to look into it once I knew a little. My heart was tugged. And then I learned some things. Some awful things. And then more pulling at my heart. Some harsh and heartbreaking and unfair things. Some things that are true and real and happening in this world. Some things that are happening to women. Ugly things. Some things that are happening to children. Horrifying things. Things that are so unjust, so inhumane, so unacceptable that we cannot fathom that these things would ever be allowed to happen. Certainly not in this day and age. Right?!
But the these heartbreaking things are happening. Right now. In our world. And even in our backyard.
And the trouble with these things, is that I cannot now un-know them. Cannot un-learn these facts. Cannot un-see the scenes from The True Cost or The Abolitionists. Cannot unread the articles and books that shed light on these global issues of injustice in the supply chain. And now, now that I do know, have learned and seen glimpses of what kind of crazy is going on in this fast and furious consumer world of ours, I cannot help but be changed. (More on the baby steps (as Bob Wiley would say) path I took towards making my little dent in the unsafe, unfair & unjust fashion industry in last month's blog post found here)
And so at school pickup this very afternoon (now back to carpool moments of clarity. . . .my friends are well-versed in the Jenni bunny trails in all my stories! lol! Welcome, new friends, to my world!) I was struck, in such a good way, with the beauty that is my FIFTEEN year old already knowing about such things. Things that I had no idea about at her age. Things that I had an inkling about in my thirties, but didn't move on. Wasn't brought to any points of change, even small ones. Yes, it's a hard truth to know at her young age. Uncomfortable. Scary. Hard to know what is really behind that super cute forever young, four dollar striped gray tee. Especially when you want to shop and dress easily and similarly to your high school buddies.
But ahhh. . .the beauty in that moment for me, her mama! Seeing my girl, her smart and strong brain churning with the realization of what is truly going on behind the scenes. The "knowing" already. Her being able to start now in her baby steps and journey to compassion and kindness with her shopping choices. Even if just a teeny bit. My mama heart was proud of the compassion that she already has.
And my global heart was encouraged that maybe, just maybe, this next generation will be the one. The one that puts enough drops in the bucket to turn the tide and bring justice rolling down like water, righteousness like a mighty stream. (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
And so I will wait for moments, and share the hard and sad truths that I have learned. Because no matter how tough it is to know these things, we cannot un-learn them now. We already know. Now we must be changed.