Where Am I Wearing~ Revised Edition
I recently finished reading Where Am I Wearing by Kelsey Timmerman. The book was very inspiring an definitely eye-opening. There are so many people around the world that work in the garment industry. To us, they are invisible, but in reality they are very hard working people that risk leaving everything behind for a minimal wage job. Many of the workers leave their villages and towns to move around the garment factories so that they don't have to travel hours to get there. Many workers live in small spaces that they call their home. There are parents that leave children behind and children that leave parents behind to work and earn money to send back to provide for their families in the villages.
The book discusses the positive side and the negative side of the garment industry. There are two sides to every story, but Kelsey writes this book in a way that makes you really think about the workers' situations. The people like us that wear garments made in China or India think that every garment is made at a sweat shop in horrible conditions. There are bad factories and good factories. The companies that outsource to countries with cheaper labor have a hard time keeping track of the labor conditions of the workers. There are many factories that do not follow the rules and treat their workers unfairly, while there are other factories that keep improving their conditions and they do not abuse the workers.
There was a story about a Chinese couple who worked 80 hours a week and some of those hours were not being paid for because sometimes the workers have to go to the factories to finish a job and they are not allowed to clock back in-meaning they are working for free. If they do not finish their job, there are chances of getting fired and replaced by others looking for this type of job.
What was most impacting to me in this book was that the subject is very bias. Is it bad for someone to work and be exploited in the garment industry where they have a chance to earn a living a grow as a person or is it better for the workers to live in poverty and turn to other industries such as the sex or prostitution industry? When it seems like all of your options are bad, working at a garment factory seems like the only choice the workers have to earn an ok lifestyle in which they barely have any food, money for rent, and money for extra curricular activities. Most of these workers work their lives away to send large percentages of their earnings back at home to care for their extended families. There are relationships that are interrupted for years because money and time is so scarce when you have to work all the time, an sometimes for no money.
Kelsey describes a plethora of cases in different countries in which the situations are similar. A small town person moves to a large city to work and they leave family and everything behind for what could be a better lifestyle. Another problem with the garment industry is that if there is no demand, then there is no jobs. If there are no jobs, no one is getting paid and people are unemployed. Therefore, it is up to us to create a demand so that the garment workers can receive wages and better working conditions. The garment industries will always be around, but it is up to the people that care and the workers to fight for better wages and better opportunities. When shoppers boycott certain brands, in a far away country, someone is not getting paid because they are not making garments of clothes. It is a difficult subject to try to understand because whatever we do, as buyers, will affect families somewhere across the globe but we don't think like that. When most people are shopping, they don't think about the garment worker and the family and life they left behind, to us, it is just a piece of clothing- but to someone else, it is their only way of earning a 'decent' living.
I would recommend reading this book, especially if you are deeply involved in the fashion industry. There are many tips to get involved in fair trade shopping. Where Am I Wearing is definitely a book that makes readers want to be more aware about the industry along with how to help better the garment industry.