Monday, August 22, 2011

Clothing Consciousness

Most of us acquire our clothing without much thought. Yes, we may examine whether we like the color, fit, and style, but when those questions are answered affirmatively we buy. Consciousness rarely makes it into the dressing room. Awareness is an important part of our psychological health, but we may limit it to our meditative or relaxation practices rather than allow it to permeate throughout our day. Shopping for clothing can be an exercise in consciousness, and frankly should be! Here are some tips for raising your consciousness during clothing consumption. Remember to be mindful without judgment, this awareness may or may not change your purchase, but at minimum will make you think a little deeper.

Cost: In a world of conspicuous consumption, plummeting stocks, housing foreclosures, job loss, and inflated prices, examining the cost of our purchase has become a necessity rather than an afterthought. Consider your resources before you consider your purchase. Do you actually have the money, in liquid funds, to buy? If you have the money, is this money what is left over after you pay for the necessities? If you can easily afford the item, do you still need to spend the money on that item? That extra money may be put to better use for activities promoting emotional growth, such as a family vacation, hobby or interest, dinner party with friends, animal in a shelter, or favorite charity.

Maker: When buying, think about who your buying from and for what demand are you supplying. Consider who is making your design, manufacturing your product, distributing, marketing, and assembling. Do these individuals honor their employees with respect, fair treatment, and sufficient pay? Do they create a product using green practices? Do they support appropriate messages about children, teens, and adults? Do they promote a global view of beauty, including age, body shape, and color? Are they working to fit your lifestyle or must you fit the lifestyle they deem acceptable? If you are upset by the answers to these questions but still must have the item, look for something similar elsewhere, such as a vintage shop, different store, or savvy seamstress. Trust me, most ideas are not original!

Source: It is simply not enough to consider who your product came from but what it came from. Is your item composed of animal, plant, or synthetic materials? Did the animal endure maltreatment during its life or death? Would you treat your pet this way? Why not, what's the difference? Would you still buy if you saw the animal bludgeoned, skinned alive, or crying out? Not sure? There are plenty of pictures and videos available. My fur buying days ended when I saw a video of the Chinese fur trade. Watching a raccoon being slammed against the ground, staring at the camera with a bloody face and broken bones while waiting to be skinned, hung up by his toes, squirming while being skinned alive, and left in a heap using the last of his strength to lift his head to watch other raccoons share his fate will make anyone question the necessity of fur. If you can't live without it, consider fur from a second hand store or amazing faux fur options.

If not animal based, was the means of acquiring the plant source destructive to people or the environment? Were the synthetic fibers made in an unhealthy manner? Were the acquiring practices wasteful? Are there better alternatives for these materials? Are the ornamentation items, such as clasps, buttons, and decorative objects "friendly"? These questions may lead to some disturbing answers, but you still have a right and obligation to know!

Need: Even after you have considered all of the questions above, the final question you must ask yourself is "Do you need the item?" Will this item add to your look, your life? Or will it clutter your space, your mind? Will it make your life easier or more complicated? Buying the item takes internal and external resources and so do alterations, storage, coordination, and outfit formulation. Even if you don't need the item but still want it, consider the motivations for want. Is your want stemming from insecurity, inadequacy, boredom, loneliness, need for distraction, or addiction to acquiring? Who knew that buying an outfit could get this deep!

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