How would you feel if you spent the last 14 years sewing the same seam on the same sweater while making barely enough money to live? This may sound extreme, but it’s a reality to some garment workers in Cambodia.
I recently stumbled upon a Norwegian mini-series called Sweatshop- Deadly Fashion that follows three young fashion lovers on a trip to Cambodia where they see how their clothes are really made. At first I was going to include it in today’s Friday Finds, but I decided it deserved its own post (and Friday Finds will return to normal next week). The mini-series is five episodes long and each one is between 10-15 minutes. It only takes about an hour to watch all of them and it’ll give you a nice break from you’re Netflix binge. Sometimes its nice to get a reality check after 5 straight episodes of House of Cards. Amiright?
I found the participants transformation from the first to last episode astounding. I don’t want to give away too much, but in the beginning the three participants were very naïve about sweatshop conditions. Like most of us, they hadn’t taking the time to think about where our clothes come from. I think a lot of us avoid thinking about this. We don’t want to believe or think about these things because they make us uncomfortable and force us to justify our actions. So we push the thoughts away and try to make ourselves believe a happier story.
And I don’t think this makes anyone a bad person. It’s hard to know what you can do to help because we are so far removed from the problem. The great thing about this mini-series is that is breaks down the distances (geographical, cultural, emotional, etc.) that often lead to inaction. It gives a face to the problem. It shows us that these workers have higher hopes. That they didn’t grow up dreaming of sewing clothes. That they are unhappy.
It is also noted in a post production interview with the participants that the conditions in the factory that they filmed at were significantly better than most. This was a family owned factory and the only one that would allow them to film in. You can only imagine what the others must be like. I highly recommend reading the entire interview. It gives more behind the scenes insight and continues to show the evolution of the participants relationship with fashion and what they are doing/have done in order to improve sweatshop conditions.
The main purpose of this mini-series isn’t to make you feel bad about buying clothes. The workers from the factory actually encourage you to continue to buy their clothes because if people stop buying, then their job is at risk. The main purpose of this series is to shine light on a serious problem and put pressure on big apparel companies to change their policies.
I encourage you to watch the entire series, read the interview, reflect, and remember to appreciate all that you have.