Some days I stand in my closet and stare at the racks of clothes pondering what to wear. Not this week. This morning, I pulled the same t-shirt over my head I wore two days ago. In fact, my whole week is planned out with 7 options. Yes. Only seven! Last week, I talked about my journey fasting from different foods. Clothes are the next step on this expedition of confronting our excessiveness.
Saturday morning, I laid out my choices: 1 CIY Mix gray t-shirt, 1 light jacket, 2 pairs of capris (thank goodness the temperatures promise warmth all week), 1 workout outfit (sorry, I wasn’t about to count each item separately), 1 nicer shirt (to wear to church), shoes (1 pair of tennis shoes and 1 pair of sandals). Shoes count as one item because I can’t wear sandals to the gym, and I simply refuse to wear tennis shoes outside of the gym.
After I donned my first outfit, I smoothed my hands over the t-shirt with flair, “See this outfit, honey? Get used to seeing it a whole lot this week!”
Sunday morning rolls around, and I dress in a different pair of capris and my nicer shirt. “You’re going to wear that?” Hubby looks stunned, dressed in church appropriate khakis and a nice polo.
I, however, am wearing what I might sport any day of the week. It’s certainly not what I grew up wearing to church, the days when one wouldn’t be caught dead attired in anything but a dress or skirt. But, times have changed, and jean capris are commonplace. Just, not usually for me on a Sunday.
“Hey, this is all I have. It’s one of my options,” I spout sarcastically.
I feel strangely out of place during worship even amid a sea of denim around me. It’s not my norm. Yet, I realize that some in this world don’t have a closet full of choices. Today, we are kin--those who have no choices and I with my choosing only one out of my crammed closet.
Today, I wear my main uniform, capris newly washed. At night I perform the smell test to determine if washing is necessary. Two days of a t-shirt with a splash of perfume works wonders. To get the full effect, I wonder if clothes should be worn all week without laundering, but I don’t want to risk being exiled from my house.
The question that begs to be answered is how many clothes are too many? How many outfits do I really need? How many objects hanging in my closet haven’t been worn in weeks, months or years? How do I justify this when so many in the world have one outfit with no means to buy more? And yet, I have the means and no need to purchase more! In the week’s study, Jen doesn’t mince words. She points and shoots right between the eyes. What is our money, our wealth, our dollars to be used for? She asks, “Does God think of our income as a potential source to battle injustice, or is it simply a personal blessing to net us a happy life, a reward for being born in America and not living in a famine and securing an education and solid footing on the economic ladder?” Ouch. Guilty as charged.
This deeply disturbs me as it should all of us. In America, we have so much. Our pantries and closets are bursting because we continue to buy. Why do I purchase clothes I don’t need? Gee, let’s see. I want to look cute and stylish. I desire others to think I’m cute and stylish. I’m bored with the hundreds of choices residing in my closet. I like variety and color. Others have already seen me in that black dress; therefore, I must buy a new one (so they can admire me). A new outfit requires new accessories and shoes. Picked up on anything yet? A bit of sickening me-ism here? Just being honest, folks. (More than you cared to know about me, I’m sure.) Truthfully, I’m not sure what to do with this information, my unwise consumerism and my obvious self-indulgence. Let’s just say this is a wake-up call, and I’m open to whatever God prompts me to do.
If my ugly-side revelation wasn’t enough to make you ill, there’s another side to this topic of clothes that was a startling surprise for me: where do they come from? I mean besides Target, Macy’s or TJ Maxx? Have you ever really considered who makes the clothes you buy? I haven’t.
Jen Hatmaker points out that many retailers we would consider reputable sell clothes made by children trapped in unsafe working environments, receiving little or no wages. She says that children quite possibly make our children’s clothes. How can that be? How many in the United States have ever thought about this?
Free2Work, a project of Not For Sale, provides consumers with information about how retailers are tackling the issue of modern day slavery. It grades them in four areas: policies, transparency and traceability, monitoring and training and workers’ rights. A downloadable app to a mobile device provides users with quick access to retailers’ grades and the ability to scan barcodes of apparel and other items. Places where we shop, such as Carter’s, Adidas, Gap and Wal-Mart earned D’s or F’s and have labor right’s violations against them currently. Shocking, I know. The way to combat this is to refuse to purchase clothing from these stores that encourage poor practices. In Vietnam, children and adults are held against their will in state detention centers and forced to work. Africa, China and Argentina are other countries known to use child and/or forced labor. (www.free2work.org/trends/apparel)
No longer ignorant, we must make wise choices not only in regard to our excessive clothing purchases, our constant desire for more, but also in determining the brands that uphold fair and honorable practices.
Today, I wear my plain ensemble proudly and commit to doing more. How about you?!