Sunday, August 18, 2013

More Embarrassing than Free Porn

The other day, Spare and I found ourselves at the shopping mall. I don't like to go there, because have you noticed? There's nothing at the mall that you need to buy. It's all frivolity.

Spare likes a store called Forever 21. This store caters to a young clientele, so it has sexy clothing at low prices. I saw a rack of denim jeans, priced at $7.99. They were dyed, thick cloth, and seemed well put together. But that price! It's a thrift store price, almost. Like, within a dollar or two of Goodwill, for a brand-new pair of pants.

I was intrigued by the notion that a company could make a profit from an eight dollar pair of pants, so I looked (and looked and looked) for the tag that gave the "made in" information. Found it: Made in China.

Figure that Forever 21 has to pay its executives, its store staff, rents on the mall locations, shipping, and probably some designers or buyers. All of this has to come out of these low clothing prices before we even get to production. On the production side, there's the physical plant and machinery, supervisors, and training personnel even before we get to the individual laboring to make the pants.

All this for an eight dollar pair of pants. Basically, everything in the store is similarly "priced to sell." Forever 21 makes a dollar holler.

When you buy something at Forever 21, the clerk puts it in a plastic bag with "John 3:16" on the bottom of the bag. Forever 21 is a Christian company. They do not try to hide that fact.

Well, honestly, I think they do hide it pretty well. Many of the clothes for sale in the place are, if not daring, at least alluring. It's not the kind of garb you would expect a Christian company to sell. Spare and I found ourselves looking at a long, clingy tank dress that had a Cross on it with the words "Never Break the Rules." It didn't compute. I can't remember ever seeing anything with more of a mixed message in my life.

Forever 21 casts itself as a Christian company, but judging by the style of the clothing sold there, it is not upholding standards of modesty expected of modern-day Christian young women. Worse than that, the $7.99 pair of jeans made in China indicate most strongly that this company operates sweat shops. There's just no other way to account for that price for a brand-new piece of sturdy denim with all the usual pockets, studs, and double-stitched seams. How shamefully deceiving! You throw a Bible verse on a plastic bag, and that makes it okay to indulge in questionable taste in fashion and slave labor?

Another black eye for the busy God.

Which brings me to the next plot turn in this sermon. I got an email from a reader that said, yes, indeed, somewhere there are people being paid to leave comments on blogs by just sitting and typing in captchas, thus bypassing the spam protections. I already knew there are people in China who are paid to play online games for online money that is then sold on Ebay. This is terrible! Can you imagine sitting for long hours, staring at words you can hardly read, and duplicating the blurry captchas just to link to pornography sites?

We all know how bad it is in the Third World, but sometimes, something comes along that just puts the exclamation point on it. For me it's the $7.99 Christian jeans at Forever 21 and the indecipherable comment with pornography links in my comment list. We have one percenters who control most of the wealthy in this nation. Even so, for much of the rest of the world, we are the one percent, even if we struggle financially.

I feel horrible for Flower Lace Bra (see below). I shouldn't have made light of it. I picture some kid sitting in a hovel, cranking out captchas, perhaps being told that it will improve his or her English in hopes of a better job. Probably not even being told that. Just a few pennies to keep some rice in the bowl.

At least I have the grace not to slap a religious verse on this glaring act of inhumanity. But that's not saying much.

5 comments:

Lucretia said...

WOW. Just... wow.

I recently heard that Forever 21 has a plus-size section, from a friend who shops there. I was planning on checking it out next time I went to the mall. I still may, but doubt I'll be buying anything. I don't think I could force myself to after reading this! But then, looking at it from another point of view, maybe I should. After all, if those people in China didn't have THESE jobs, what (if anything) WOULD they have? Damned if we do, damned if we don't...

Thanks for speaking up about this, Anne!

Anne Johnson said...

Yes, I am actually wondering how long it will be before robots are able to do all the sewing on clothes. Then no one will have a job. I also sometimes wonder what people think of us Americans, as they hunch over Dollar Tree figurines hour after hour.

Lucretia said...

Oh, that's just creepy... :-(

Update: I just read an article online about Forever 21. It seems that as of tomorrow they are cutting a HUGE number of their employees' hours back to 29.5 per week... so they don't have to give them health care. How very Christian of them... NOT.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Christians have a long history of owning slaves, paying starvation wages, busting unions, etc. etc. Hypocrisy is a Christian tradition.

Anonymous said...

Can we sneak in and change the "John 3:16" to "John 3:17"? That's the Universalist line -- God is going to save EVERYONE.
--kim