“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.” -1 John 3:17-18
In my last post, I shared my thoughts on my role as a consumer, especially in regards to my choices in clothing and in view of the human rights abuses in the fashion industry.
We as women hold enormous purchasing power and influence amongst our families and friends. Who does most of the shopping for clothes, shoes, and accessories? We do! We outfit ourselves, our children, and sometimes even our significant others.
We can use this collective influence to do manifold good for the oft-destitute women who make our clothing.
We can use this collective influence to do manifold good.
The global fashion industry is vast, and the players are many.
I will briefly outline a few of the complexities, but I offer the caveat that I claim no expertise here. I’m just a concerned Catholic on a mission to figure out how to shop for my family without supporting an industry that exploits other families.
Warning: Some Wonder Woman movie spoilers below.
I know I’m a bit late to the game. A lot of the hype around Wonder Woman seems to have died down. But the mark of a good story is that it endures. It’s not just fun and new, but it’s also compelling because it speaks truths to us. It draws you back again and again, and it’s always relevant.
Just a little background and recap before I dive right in: Diana, princess and warrior of the Amazon women, has been training (and dreaming) for the day when she would fight Ares, the god of war. Ares has made it his mission to corrupt mankind, sowing discord and hatred. One day, an American soldier named Steve Trevor essentially crashlands off the coast of her home, bringing news of the Great War (World War I) that has been raging for the past several years. Diana realizes that this Great War must be the work of Ares, and she sets off with Steve, intent on defeating Ares once and for all.
Now, Diana has been raised by women her whole life. Not only that, she had never even met a man until Steve shows up. So when he brings her to London, to the war, it’s quite a culture shock for her – and not just because the clothing is different, or because she’s never tried ice cream before, or because people don’t carry swords. She is thrown into a society that is dominated by men. Dominated politically, yes, but in so many other subtle ways that even the most self-aware feminists are still trying to discern.
It’s a cold, gray morning and I’ve just put the baby down for his nap. I’m sitting in my favorite chair in the sunroom watching the rain fall and sipping the cup of coffee I’ve been thinking about since I woke up two hours ago. It’s quiet and peaceful, and I think for a moment about opening up my bible and praying. But before I know it, I’ve got my phone in hand as I scroll through my Instagram feed, curious about what I’ve missed since last night. This is the story of so many mornings, and although I hate to admit it, I’ve wasted far too many nap times in the last 7 months.
I am a 25 year-old stay-at-home mom living on a quiet 2 acre lot in the suburbs. Our sweet son arrived less than a year into our marriage and turned our world upside down (as new babies have a way of doing). Most of my close friends are unmarried and without kids, working normal 9-to-5 jobs and going out on the weekends; and although I graduated from college with them just two years ago, I feel more like a decade removed. I can’t remember the last time I went out to dinner with my girlfriends, or spent the afternoon in a cozy coffee shop with a good book. Despite that, however, I am living the life I always wanted as a young wife and mother, blazing a new trail that I am learning to navigate day by day. I chose a clear path right out of college that is transforming my heart as I am constantly refined by love. But, though I love my particular vocation, my life at 25 is not “the norm.”
For me, feeling connected to the “outside world” and staying in the know is important. I want to keep up with my friends who are living entirely different lifestyles than me. I want to be engaged in social discussions and aware of cultural trends and patterns. I want to feel connected to my peers who are living different vocations just as I want to feel connected to my few friends who are also young mothers.
In my experience, social media can often be that bridge. It feels relevant, current, new. It can make me feel less isolated and provides a level of interaction with other people that I can appreciate as someone who is chained to her house most of the day for consistent nap times—which, by the way, often means 5+ hours of alone time each day (a gift and a cross).
Outrage rang loudly through the internet with the announcement that the classic film “Ghostbusters” would be remade with all-female leads. While many of those complaints could be dismissed as sexist, there is a valid reason to complain when remakes put women in roles formerly held by men: it’s lazy writing at best, and more concerning, it is a huge disservice to women.
As Catholics, we know that men and women are distinct – and in certain ways, that makes us different. When we take a well-known movie and just switch out a man for a woman, we are acting like men and women are merely interchangeable. Rather than developing a strong female character based on the unique traits of women, we are acting as though there is nothing distinctive about being a woman. Though equal in dignity, men and women have different strengths, weaknesses, and traits that make them uniquely masculine or feminine. A strong female character should emphasize these gifts; she shouldn’t just be a pretty man.
When we take a well-known movie and just switch out a man for a woman, we are acting like men and women are merely interchangeable.
Though many movies fail to even pass the infamous feminist “Bechdel test” -let alone present strong female leads- there are also movies that present strong women who draw their strength from their femininity, not in spite of it. What do specifically feminine strengths look like? Inspired by these four Feminine Gifts scholars say were identified by Pope Saint John Paul II, I sought out movies that presented strong women – as women. Here’s what I found.
I first heard the term “fast fashion” two years ago.
I took in the scene immediately: the quickly changing trends, the insatiable consumerism, the disregard for waste, the rock-bottom prices and consequent rock-bottom wages.
The phrase itself validated my lifelong sense of being a step behind the fashion curve. By the time I pondered a new trend long enough to decide whether I liked it, then decided whether it was worth a purchase, and THEN got around to actually shopping – the trend was stale, more often than not.
The phrase also convicted. How often have I bought an item, only to barely use it or find I didn’t like it as much when I got home?
I knew in a vague sense about the connection between fast fashion, sweatshops, and garment workers’ rights. I could name a brand or two that claimed to be ethically made.
But I was horrified to learn what I hadn’t known.
As I read the news about the shooting in Las Vegas I was completely stunned and overwhelmed. My heart ached for the families that had lost loved ones, for individuals who could have had no idea their earthly lives would end that night. I felt outrage that justice could not be enacted and that we may never know what motivation was behind such an act of violence.
Two weeks later I scrolled through my newsfeed shocked and heartbroken by countless #metoo posts. I came face to face with the acute reminder that acts of violence, and the deep pain and suffering that follow, are daily affecting people I know and love.
In the midst of the now seemingly constant barrage of news about acts of violence it is all too easy to be completely overcome with emotion. We can hardly know what to think or even feel: outrage, anger, sadness, fear, pity, confusion, heartbreak. Even more overwhelming is the piercing desire to do or say something to make the madness stop, to keep one more innocent life from being lost, another family from being broken. What can be done in the face of such hatred and destruction? How do you and I, as women throughout the world, respond and make the change we so desperately long to make in the world? These questions are weighing on many of our hearts, so it’s no surprise how many people resonated with a character on screen asking these same things.
It’s that time of year again.
Ladies be lining up like:
Sexy Wonder Woman, Sexy Santa, even Sexy Taco Sauce packets — the options are endless.
Unless of course, you’re too hipster for that.
But even if you generally dress pretty modestly, you can’t deny, there’s something really… powerful about getting dolled up so… sexy.