*Cue the heavens opening. A beam of golden light shines down upon me. Angels flutter down and hand me a certificate that says “Best Human Ever Award”*
Today I went into Forever 21. I needed a new sports bra and figured this would be the cheapest, quickest way to get the job done. I left the store about 30 minutes later with two sports bras, gym shorts, a tank top, a blouse, and a sweater. What could have cost me less than $10 ended up forcing me to sell my grandmother’s prized family heirlooms on the corner. Not really, but almost.
I have been in a complicated relationship with Forever 21 for as long as I’ve been dressing myself. The store is an overwhelming sensory experience of glitter, nonsensical pop music, things with cats and/or pineapples on them, surprisingly cute underwear, jewelry that leaves your fingers green, and stuff that could actually pass as not being from Forever 21.
Above all: it’s cheap. Disgustingly cheap. As in, I am fairly sure I have paid less than $1 for more than one thing there. When something is that cheap, its origins are instantly undeniable. A quick Google search will link you to tons of reports on completely unacceptable labor practices used by Forever 21, H&M, Zara, and basically anywhere else a college student will tell you she got her outfit.
Yet we’re all able to suppress the idea that an 11-year-old kid made our Floral Crochet Vests because this kind of shopping experience is addicting. Checking a price tag on a cute top and seeing a teeny-tiny $6.00 is a rush, especially when your total clothing budget is $20.00. Holy cow, I can get three of these puppies! I might as well get that unicorn-shaped necklace too!! And why not a new skirt?!! Don’t act like you haven’t been there. Also, don’t act like you haven’t gone home and realized half of the things you got aren’t even that cute. Hell, I already dubbed that tank top I bought earlier as “Officially Fugly.”
For people who are struggling to clothe themselves, inexpensive clothing can be a real blessing and I fully acknowledge that. I am thankful I am not in this position and have the choice to be mindful about how and where I spend my money. Of course, making this kind of decision doesn’t automatically mean the Human Rights Fairy is going to bless me with infinite monies to purchase higher quality, more ethically made clothing. As it turns out, there are so many resources for finding affordable, ethical, slow fashion. This list is a great jumping off point.
So, I’m done with it. Forever 21, Zara, H&M can kiss my overused credit card farewell. I am tired of foolishly compromising my morals, my budget, and my style (and my skin to all these synthetic fabrics, psshaww!) for the sake of a temporary shopping high.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas for new places to shop!