Thursday, June 25, 2009

Clothes

And now, it's time for a brief rant on my new pet issue:
How on earth do we all support our society's clothing addiction? I noticed it as soon as I got off the train in New York, because it was a Saturday evening and folks were dressed to the nines in a way you don't typically see in Wallowa county. Spotless, perfect, trendy new clothing, and as I walked through Penn Station the crowds of people just appeared in my eyes as yards and yards and yards of silk, cotton, god-knows-what-else, zippers buttons and sequins.
Bear with me for a minute. You might never have had this experience of mindboggledness, but I'll do my best to share it...
Backing up, in Wallowa county there's a fabulous little place called the Soroptomist's, which is a thrift shop that takes donations of everyone's unwanted anything and sells it all back at 25c each, or thereabouts. This turns into thousands of dollars which are donated back to the community each year as scholarships. AND although they sell clothes at the ridiculous price of 25c, they still end up with nonsalable items. My friend Junebug has (no joke) a SHED full of the reject clothes, because she's starting a quilting-recycling business.

If a county like Wallowa (a few thousand residents, and where clothing styles never change too fast because "cowboy" is forever in) produces sheds full of clothes that won't even sell at 25c,
IMAGINE
(and let your mind be blown)
IMAGINE
the tons and tons and cubic MILES of reject clothing that must stream off the island of Manhattan each week, into landfills or at best vaguely bound for a journey toward less picky folks in Africa or India.
But the thing is, I've seen the secondhand markets in Africa, and I know africans won't ever wear your tiny buttshorts and those other ridiculous approximations of "clothing," because some people want clothes to COVER them.
How did we get so crazy??

On the train I met Amish people in homemade clothing (not homespun, these days, they wear commercial fabrics, but they sure do sew it by hand). Okay, the ladies' hat situations are a bit weird, BUT I admire the simplicity that it's the same weird every day. I saw nuns in their similarly conspicuous habits, a sign to the whole world: "I live a simple life."
Shane Claiborne cooked up a new kind of monastic habit for himself, identified by dreadlocks, bandana, and brown self-sewn clothing. I'm thinking up my own version, even though I'm not a monk, but it will be less like sackcloth and more colorful than his because I'll make everything out of scraps from Junebug's Soroptimist Reject Pile.

A statement against the social conventions of appearance:
People Look on the Outward Appearance, but God Looks On the Heart.

A statement to the weary silkworms and alpacas and flaxplants and polyester fairies that supply us so endlessly:
I love you, Creature, Take A Break. (a sabbath? a full-fledged year of jubilee?)

A statement to the world of new things:
God makes Treasure out of Trash, and So Can We.

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