style, social justice, and how I'm staying sane
Most of the content that I share revolves around (ethical) fashion. Nothing shocking there.
I want to pause for a minute and address something that's been on my mind a lot lately:
Being passionate about sourcing my clothing from ethical brands is not my sole mission in life.
Do I find it extremely important? Yes.
Do I devote a huge amount of time and energy into raising awareness for this issue? Yes.
Do I think that this excuses me from caring about other issues of justice? Absolutely not.
I believe that I am called to care just as much about my neighbor in suburban America as I do for garment workers in Bangladesh.
Each of us have specific issues of justice that we personally find the most compelling. For whatever reason, we may find ourselves more passionate about helping one oppressed people group than another.
And that's okay.
We don't have to throw ourselves wholeheartedly at every injustice we encounter in our news feed. In fact, in such a connected world, it's humanly impossible for us to do so.
At the same time, if we truly believe in justice for all, we should consistently care about the wrongs that we see - whether is affects our specific passion or not.
So what do we do?
How do we determine where we direct our finite time and resources without feeling guilty or overwhelmed?
How do we remain effective and focused on one issue without turning a blind eye to others?
1. Evaluate the role you play in each injustice you come across.
Here's an example: As a consumer, I realized that I played a critical role in the oppressive system of fast fashion. Instead of trying to change the behavior of factory owners, I took ownership for my role as a consumer. We can only control our own actions, and in justice issues that involve consumption of a product, we have the opportunity to effect change through our personal lifestyle.
Because this specific issue grabbed my heart so strongly, I devoted extra time and resources into making it easier for others to do the same. I don't expect other people to be as gripped by this issue as I am. You don't need to start a blog or even talk publicly about your shopping choices. I would simply ask that you evaluate your involvement as a consumer and consider make changes based on that.
2. Assess the needs in your own community.
Even if you aren't playing a direct role in an injustice, if it's taking place in your own community, you are much more connected to the issue than people across the country. I really believe in "owning" the needs of our neighbors. Depending on the demographic where you live, the needs may be harder to identify. But I promise you, they are there. I was shocked to discover that homeless youth is a huge issue in our city. I now work for an organization that finds safe homes for kids whose families are in crisis. I'm not suggesting that you need to leave your job and work for a nonprofit, but there are so many ways to get involved in addressing the pressing needs in your own city as a volunteer.
3. Pay attention to the cause that's not getting much press.
A nonprofit I used to work at was very passionate about "phase two" disaster relief. Their approach was to send volunteers and resources into places that had been devastated by disaster several months after the initial crisis. They had realized that most of the needs in hurting communities emerge long after the news cameras and first responders leave. This way of thinking has stuck with me ever since. Whether it be getting involved in helping someone when everyone else seems to have moved on, or simply using your voice to raise awareness for issues that aren't showing up in mainstream media, there are ways that you can be hugely helpful in less-talked-about issues.
4. When you find the cause you're passionate about, run with it!
You know that one issue that you can't seem to get out of your mind? The one you wake up thinking about? That's no accident. Chase that down. Find a way to help people. Get creative. Use your unique capabilities. Make it easier for other people to enter into that cause with you, so that they can simultaneously pursue their own passions.
That's the whole point of Selflessly Styled. I want to make it so easy for you to shop ethically, that you can be an active participant in the fashion revolution without even having to think about it. My hope is to empower those around me to get dressed in clothes that don't hurt the world and then get on with their life and make a difference in the unique area they are called to.
I'm not here to say I have the perfect solution. But I wanted to share how I keep myself focused and sane in the middle of a world so full of needs.
Let's keep looking out for each other and the world.