Jesus Hates Forever 21
Why I believe the Son of Man Hates Fast Fashion
Warning: I fully recognize that this blog includes both my personal experiences as well as my opinions (not popular ones). If you disagree, have experienced otherwise or have alternative opinions do feel free to share.
However, please do be aware that I am only interested in constructive criticism and discussion. Hate halts movement and will therefore not receive attention nor energy.
I grew up Christian, and dare I say, am still a Christian. Except now, I have less fear, guilt, more questions and fewer answers. Which isn’t what my church upbringing taught me but what I have come to with more intentional study, discussion, openness and ironicly… honesty. But that journey is a story for another time.
If you grew up in the church, you are probably aware that there are two professions glorified above all others: full time ministry workers and missionaries. Ministry workers are your standard people working within the church that is, youth pastors, worship leaders, children’s church organizers, etc. Missionaries are the boots on the ground working outside of the church. These are the evangelists spreading the word, helping children, the poor and the broken generally in developing countries. I can honestly say I have a hard time with the missions model for two reasons:
1. It can foster a sort of Western Savior mentality in which, people of poorer countries are viewed as projects in need of a western/white savior.
2. It promotes the idea that helping or investing into a community begins with a passport.
None of this ever sat well with me and I knew it was never my calling to be a missionary. It wasn’t until I learned about the horrors of fast fashion (aka the giant monster of an industry I had happily been throwing my money at for years) that I understood I was supporting the enslavement of garment workers. Here I’d been shopping at Forever 21 buying glued shoes, $1.90 basics and freaking cheap necklaces that I knew wouldn’t last through a day’s wear. And what justified my spending?? Scripture. Surprised? Yeah me too.
Photo Courtesy of Forbes
At the bottom of every fluorescent yellow Forever 21 bag there is small black ink that reads John 3:16. Don’t know the scripture?
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NLT
I’m embarrassed now to say that high school me thought, “Wow! How Christian of them” and swipe-swipe-swipe went the ol’ debit card!
But it’s not!
It’s not the Christian thing to do unless of course, Jesus Christ asked us to exploit the marginalized for the almighty dollar. As for the Jesus I know, it’s the very opposite thing he would support or want.
Most know that Jesus not only stood up for the poor and marginalized, but he ate with them, he friended them, simply put: he treated them like they were human. These very same people exist today only they live in developing countries like, Singapore and are paid slave wages [about an average of $68 U.S. dollars a month] to make our cheap clothing. But guess what? You don’t have to fly to Singapore to address or bring positive impact to this issue! You can fight against this exploitation now by adjusting your shopping habits!
So why wasn’t I taught this in church? If Jesus’ heart is truly for the broken, the poor and the exploited, like I was taught, then why isn’t responsible consumerism not only encouraged but the standard for the church? We are called to give life! To freaking care!
I understand that change is never overnight, and movement is slow but small changes to move in the right direction can be made as quickly as tomorrow. I encourage you as a consumer to think about where your clothing came from! This week is the perfect week to do this as it is Fashion Revolution Week. Fashion Revolution is calling consumers to ask brands, “Who Made My Clothes?” It’s a call for a transparent and ethical future. In my opinion, it’s a Jesus-minded future; where laborers are cared for, paid fair, living-wages and treated like people instead of resources to exploit.
If you’re a Christian and you’re reading this please understand it is not my aim hate on all missions work and it is not to inflict you with guilt. I was once you, a church going-girl on a budget, ill-informed with a love for fashion.
But don’t be mistaken, I do mean to challenge you and to ask you to wear your values.
Loving thy neighbor includes caring about the woman who spends 16hr days sewing your jeans in a factory that’s unsafe only to walk home at the end of the day with $3. It means taking responsibility for the production you support with your shopping.
To both Christian and non-Christian alike, I dare you to join the movement towards ethical, responsible consumerism. To begin to understand how directly your shopping habits can either empower or enslave others.
To find out more about the Fashion Revolution Movement visit www.fashionrevolution.org