The Life and Death of a Garment

This book I read circa 5 months ago.

It’s a fascinating and compelling expose of the life cycle of clothing.

Maxine Bedat takes the reader on a trip from the cotton field to the manufacturing plant to the store shelves.

If you wondered like I did how a cotton ball becomes a pair of jeans or a shirt (or how fabric becomes an item of clothing like a coat) Bedat shows us with step-by-step photos of the production process.

This curious glimpse exposes the dirty truth about the toxic working conditions and filthy physical environments of overseas garment manufacturing.

60 women (all women!) sit in rows of tables at cramped sewing machines. One woman sews the jean hem. The next sews the leg. And the next sews the waistband. On down the line it goes.

Giving way to the term “deaths of despair” that occur when work is not meaningful and doesn’t give you a purpose for getting up out of bed.

The root lies in the neoliberal economic policies that offloaded clothing production to other countries.

In the guise of giving the residents a better life. When in fact it allowed American businesses to pay cut-rate wages in order to reap billions in sales.

My tactic is to rarely buy an item of clothing from Zara or H&M. Should I be shopping in those stores at all?

This spring and going into the summer I won’t be buying any new clothes.

On tap is a pair of blue fabric booties I would like to buy. That’s all.

In March I sent donation bags off to the Salvation Army.

In the coming blog entry, I would like to talk about how I finally made peace with my disobedient hair.

Brooklyn Subway Shooting

As the day ends, I feel worse than I did in the morning when I first watched a Fox5 local news report of the subway shooting in Brooklyn.

At 8:24 a.m. a man wearing an orange construction vest and hardhat opened fire inside an N train rolling into the 36th Street station.

A person of interest was cited on the police briefing this evening.

As a lifelong city girl who was born in Brooklyn and lives there today, I won’t take the subway unless I’m forced to when there’s no other option.

What happened and where it happened is curious to me.

The 36th Street station on Fourth Avenue is in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

A neighborhood of immigrants on low incomes. Abogados and Mercados and Taquerias line Fifth Avenue from Fortieth Street to Sixtieth Street.

Curious to me it is why a gunman would shoot subway riders passing through a low-income neighborhood.

The crime was most likely planned down to each specific detail and every specific minute.

A key to a U-Haul truck was found at the crime scene. The gunman was thought to have boarded the train at the Kings Highway stop.

It’s one thing to drive a U-Haul truck to New York City and board a train right after.

I think the gunman must have had an accomplice parked in a van outside the 36th Street subway entrance.

How else could the shooter have escaped and not been caught yet?

A 9mm Glock was found at the crime scene. It had been fired 33 times.

We cannot engage in “guilt-by-association” of individuals that look like the person of interest shown on the news.

What’s the most terrible thing is that citizens will turn out to vote for Republicans they believe will crack down on crime.

In New York City a lot of us think bail reform has allowed people who commit minor crimes to remain loose on the street to commit bigger crimes.

What is the root cause of the violent crime that occurs in neighborhoods like East New York in Brooklyn?

The disintegration of families is thought to be a contributing factor to the unravelling of communities.

Living in poverty can’t be a shiny happy experience for young people either.

The person of interest in this shooting is 62 years old and not from here.

Today’s subway attack was the exception to the rule.

If you’re a tourist and have the cash to be able to vacation here, most likely you can afford to take a cab around this town.

I wouldn’t advise taking the subway if you can help it.

One night I was taking the train home. A stranger across from me (he was a strange man likely) started giving advice to two women sitting near him that he didn’t know.

Then there’s the drunks. And the flashers. The guy in a gray flannel coat lying on a seat like he’s sleeping in bed.

The panhandlers. A trio of Mariachi singers crooning for coins. A quartet of beggars belting out “Under the Boardwalk” in the summer.

The cold calculated attention-to-detail of the subway shooter today is what creeps me out.

This was no symptomatic person with a mental illness pushing a woman onto the subway tracks.

My goal when I retire from my job is to take cabs everywhere.

One thing isn’t talked about. I’ll be the only one talking about this now. Just like I’ve been the only one talking about other things.

If you ask me inequality comes down to geography. Geography often determines your biography.

On Staten Island where I used to live all the housing projects were located out of view and miles away from retail stores. Geographic isolation can’t be a good thing.

In 1987 in college, I took an Economic Geography course. My 18-page term paper talked about the effect of sanctions on apartheid in South Africa.

The fact that today’s gunman carefully planned and executed a shooting exactly where he carried it out says something.

Continuing to toss teenagers who commit low-level crimes into Rikers is not the Republican solution we need to halt this crime wave.

If your only role model is a Blood or Crip that doesn’t bode well for your future prospects.

I’ll end here with this: it’s not the crime itself that is the problem. It’s the societal ills that cause the crime that need to be rectified.

Finding Happiness

Throwing out four donation bags sparked me to examine the effect of my wardrobe on my happiness.

Wearing dull drab colors head-to-toe did nothing to spark joy.

Could wearing bright colors boost a person’s mood?

Some of us look sharp dressing in gray and brown.

I realized those colors weren’t for me.

The point is: We could all use more hope and joy going into the third year of wearing masks and distancing from each other couldn’t we?

Anything healthy that could help me feel great I was willing to try.

Bring on magenta! Hello yellow! Blast off in blue!

It was clear that saving your health was equally important as saving the planet.

Dawnn Karen in her fashion psychology book Dress Your Life wrote that what you wear can alter or amplify your mood.

Something that the sustainable fashion crowd hasn’t explored:

That having and wearing a ton of clothes that make you feel crummy or tired is a great reason for not buying them in the first place.

The trick is to shoot a selfie of yourself in an outfit in the dressing room or at home after the package arrives.

Photos don’t lie. They’re how I’ve discovered what clothes to ditch and what to keep.

I feel lighter and freer after filling the donation bags.

May you find your way to happiness too.

In the coming blog entry, I will talk about a new book I’m reading that continues where Fulfillment left off.

Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment exposes the real truth about the fashion industry’s role in global warming beyond the usual suspect practices.

Maxine Bedat peels away the layers that cover up what goes on.

In a country like America, we can afford to buy the clothes that make us feel good wearing them as well as look good in them.

I don’t take this luxury for granted. The fact that how I dressed could’ve been dragging me down was a revelation. It was crystal-clear to me that the connection between the colors I wore, and my mood and energy was indisputable.

Right after realizing this, I started to read Unraveled. Understanding that sweatshop workers in Ethiopia don’t have the option to dress their best so as to elevate their prospects in life.

Those of us who are well-off owe a debt to society to help others lift themselves up too.

The real deal:

If how I dress can help me overcome depression this enables me in the end to have the energy to do good for others.

This is the win-win we need to have a conversation about:

Buying a $2 tee shirt in Telco is not an option. The female workers who labored to sew that shirt should be paid a living salary so that they too can feel good and not be dragged down living their lives.

Fulfillment

I have just read the book Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America.

Alec MacGillis the investigative journalist exposed the dark side of the Amazon.com reign over retail.

Employees have gotten killed working at Amazon warehouses.

Jeff Bezos pays lobbyists millions of dollars to get elected leaders in Washington and elsewhere to do his bidding.

The million-dollar tax breaks given to Amazon to build its warehouses everywhere in the U.S. turn into higher taxes imposed on residents of areas where Amazon sets up camp.

No–I haven’t ever been a fan of Liberals. I detest them as much as I despise Conservatives. The fact that Democrat leaders cozy up to Jeff Bezos will be no secret when you read Fulfillment.

Yes–I have decided it’s too risky and unethical to shop on Amazon anymore.

I use Amazon’s books category to search for new books. Then I order the books from a local independent bookseller to pick up at the store.

Fulfillment exposes the regional economic inequality that is at the root of the income divide in America. Where you live determines your income level and your prospects in life.

It explains how people in rural and other disadvantaged areas voted for Mr. Toupee / Donald Trump.

Another book that I haven’t read exposed the dark side of Mr. Toupee’s Economic Development Zones. That book’s author alleged the ordinary citizens living there were fleeced not given great jobs.

It begs the question that the tide is rising for no one in America regardless of who we elect.

Fulfillment ends with the author’s hope that Joe Biden will regulate Amazon and other big businesses. I doubt this corrective action will happen.

Coming up I will talk about my private reckoning with the stuff I own. Firsthand I have seen incontrovertible proof that how you dress can heal or harm you.

Never mind the harm done to workers in sweatshops and the pollution of waterways and farmland with chemical waste from clothing production.

Though we should care about this.

Wow–I discovered another bona fide reason for caring about your clothes. How you dress can hold you back or help you grow.

This is a radical idea that no one in the sustainable fashion brigade has talked about: How limiting your clothing choices can spark more joy, energy, and opportunity in your life than you’ve ever had before.

Let’s face it: this self-interested motivation is a great gateway to choosing and using wardrobe items with care and attention.

My journey to freedom and happiness started this month when I filled up four donation bags with clothes, jewelry, and barely worn shoes.

The connection between what I bought and how I felt was the wake-up call for doing things differently.

Fearless is the New Flawless

A friend shot the photo above.

In the picture the only makeup I have on is black eyeliner.

The photo shoot set off a revolution in my head.

Through a series of recent events, I’ve come to see that letting go of what no longer serves you is the first step in setting your intention for the New Year.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to let go of the anger. That freedom lies in having self-acceptance.

I’ve decided that how I’m dressed in the photo is an OK Winter Date Night Outfit.

No pumps or stilettos for me. Just rocking boots.

It takes guts to act true to yourself. Only believe me faking who you are leads to ill health.

Getting the new haircut shown in the photo was what turned around my thinking. A great haircut gives you the confidence to take on the world.

Who couldn’t use more confidence in 2022?

On the Classes for Confidence page of the beauty emporium’s website their stance is that:

Fearless is the New Flawless.

Living through the pandemic I’ve come to see things differently.

I’m not keen to have the makeup on my face be the first thing people notice.

In a room of women spackled with obvious makeup I would rather stand out having a fresh face.

What I’ve learned is that worrying about how you appear to others is a waste of time and energy.

Perhaps by talking about my experience I can give readers the courage to act true to yourself too.

2022 is here.

It’s time to let go of the fear of what will happen when we show up as ourselves interacting with each other.

To abolish the hate in the world we must first love ourselves.

The mirror is not our enemy. Nor is any other human being.

The Year of Freedom

I’m looking at you purple Prince shirt with the flouncy collar. How did you get in there?

What possessed me to think I would wear you when I won’t ever perform on stage in an arena?

These thoughts flew into my head as I tossed the blouse into a new Salvation Army donation bag.

In January 1990 I had my first-ever article published in a newspaper column. It was titled Time to Start Spring Cleaning.

Thirty-two years ago, I was in the vanguard in talking about clearing out mental clutter as well as your clothes. In the dead of winter.

2022 I envision as being The Year of Freedom. It’s time to let go of the things that no longer serve a purpose in our lives.

My recommendation is to find a therapist to talk to. Letting go is a loss not only of what’s hanging on a rod but of the thoughts hanging out in our heads.

It can be tempting to want to fill up this newly empty space. It takes courage to travel light.

Living through the pandemic attests to not keeping around forever in our heads hearts and homes anything that is not useful beautiful and adored.

While I was spring cleaning, I tossed out the teal fringe cardigan because I am not the kind of girl to wear such a creation.

2022 I firmly believe is the year to say: “Good riddance!” to the old and outdated.

Making room for the new and better in terms of our thinking and how we interact with each other.

The power of transformation lies in giving ourselves the breathing room to express ourselves in the moment we’re living.

Our closets should live and breathe too.

In the coming blog entry, I will give insight into the ultimate beauty of letting go of what no longer serves us.

Living with Less

The red cover of the captioned book belies the standard white barren aesthetic of mainstream minimalism.

Christine Platt received 4.8 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon for this Avant Garde rendering of Living with Less.

The book is only 207 pages.

Everyone should read it when you want to attain a minimalist lifestyle. In the face of temptation to bow into consumer culture and spend spend spend.

I’m impressed with Platt who is an Advocate and Storyteller for her peers in the African diaspora.

Proud of my Italian heritage I get empowered by Platt’s adoration of her culture. To advocate for what I called in here and use as a blog Category Conscious Chic.

At the same time I read the Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less I watched a Suze Orman retirement planning TV show on Channel 13.

Orman told her audience to cut down spending today to be able to live on less money after you retire.

This advice to live on less right now resonated with me.

As hard as it is to do this I’m going to nix buying a fab cashmere sweater that’s on sale.

Christine Platt copped to owning 53 pairs of jeans.

Reading that she had 53 pairs of jeans put my own clothes collection in perspective.

I have 6 pairs of jeans. Two of them I wear in the summer. The others I wear year-round.

What I do have in bulk are warm sweaters. New York City is cold for 8 months of the year. One sweater I’m donating to charity. Another I’ll pitch in the garbage because it has a permanent stain.

Unlike the white influencer minimalists who champion a barren aesthetic of (costly!) furniture in neutral colors Platt endorses living with less in terms of having an Authentic and Intentional life ethic.

Her wardrobe palette is colorful and reflects her African roots.

Go on the Afrominimalist website for more details.

Hair Artistry

This is a photo of Bozo the Clown.

When I was 7 years old my mother and friend took us kids to see Bozo in person.

I was terrified of Bozo and wouldn’t sit in the audience. I stayed behind the curtain backstage in tears.

The reality is that when I or other women look in the mirror we can magnify what we think of our appearance into a distorted image.

Seeing this Bozo the Clown hairstyle convinces me that my hair is perfectly fine the way it is. It should cure all of us from looking in the mirror and hating our hair.

Nobody has to like our hair. Only do you like me worry what other people think of your hair?

I want to tell everyone reading my blog to love your hair even if no one else does.

When your hair is gorgeous and it’s a work of art and your crowning masterpiece no one’s fingers should go near it.

You don’t ogle a Van Gogh from 5 inches away in a museum. The same goes for hair.

A couple of years ago in here I wrote about my hair. I was born with curly hair. My natural hair is curly.

In humid or rainy weather it frizzes up and curls in unruly directions. The hair on my head doesn’t curl the same way twice in the summer.

It’s like I get 50 “hairstyles” for the cost of one haircut.

Simply by scrunching up my hair when I’m drying it (without using any product) presto I have curly hair.

Finally October is here and it’s (hopefully) goodbye to the humidity.

You can predict the weather by watching my hair. Frizzy and curly and it’s rainy. Straight and sleek and it’s sunny.

Dreadlocks–a derogatory term–are called locs today. I think locs are hair artistry at its finest.

Natural Black hair is beautiful.

A person whose hair can’t be touched has a power no one else does.

An OKCupid question asks: Would you like your hair pulled during sex?

Cupid, my hair’s too short to pull. If like me you answer No that’s a liability.

This is another “algorithm” that is biased. Like typing “images of beauty” in a search bar.

I prefer to have short hair. I don’t like the feeling of long hair against the nape of my neck. Odd yet true.

Today I go to a trendy salon where the haircut costs $65. I spring for the cost because I’m afraid of getting a bad haircut again like at the old salon.

At the end of the day loving your hair gives you power.

If you’re riding the New York City subway and your hair looks like Bozo the Clown’s no one will mess with you.

Something to think about when you’re having a bad hair day.

Laughter is the Best Cosmetic

In the October Allure magazine Ariana Grande is quoted on the cover:

“You can never have enough music or makeup.”

The superstar vocalist is bringing out her own beauty line.

In truth music and makeup have been healing modes of expression for me.

First in the 1980s when I was a disc jockey on FM radio.

Throughout my life listening to music even today.

Fugees are on the Post Modern Music Box channel with “No Woman No Cry” as I type this blog entry.

I recommend going on Audacy to listen to 100s of music stations.

My favorites are the Punk Party channel and the Post Modern Music Box channel. There’s also a channel for The Cure and for New Arrivals.

The link to Audacy will be at the bottom of this blog entry.

Elsewhere what brightened my day was cashing in my 1000 points in the Sephora Rewards Bazaar.

My Benefit brand gift was a water bottle inscribed with We Dream in Pink that changes color. A white tote bag with pink letters chiming: Laughter is the Best Cosmetic. A tube of They’re Real! Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara.

In the October Allure there was a review of the They’re Real! Magnet Mascara.

Smitten I was with this lash-defining product. So I will keep using it.

Music and Makeup.

I find myself listening to music at all hours of the day and night.

Lining my eyes with black eyeliner. Or using silvery-white eyeshadow.

Going through a struggle I feel good when I make others feel good. There’s a lot that’s not right in the world. So injecting humor and hope into everyone’s lives is called for.

Sephora now sells a haircare line by Tracee Ellis Ross called Pattern. Definitely worth checking out and the packaging is gorgeous too.

Here is the link to the Audacy website.

9/11 Pandemic Insight

This tee shirt I bought at a street fair in the West Village 12 years ago.

It was my chosen outfit with black jeans to wear to the dentist on 9/11. Using clothing to protest or make a statement is my preferred way of getting a message across.

Though I was afraid to have a cavity or need a terrible scraping of my teeth I was in luck. The cleaning was quicker than usual.

Before opening my mouth wide I told the dentist that I have no energy at all. That in the evening I haven’t been brushing my teeth.

“Everyone has no energy. They’re under stress. The coronavirus is no joke. Some people have it together. Others lost it altogether,” he cut to the chase.

The pandemic has been a game changer in this regard. My dentist was right about everyone being stressed out.

There should be more openness and willingness to talk about mental health issues. No one’s immune from cracks and fissures in the mind these days.

If human beings cannot be honest with each other then we’re living a lie. Game over.

We cannot go back to the way things were before.

It was hard for a lot of us to not resort to snacking on potato chips and pretzels or drinking vodka and gin while holed up in our living rooms.

None of us should feel guilty and ashamed.

Not about our bodies our health our sexuality. Nothing.

Everyone’s doing the best we can with what we were given.

To coexist. That is the only way to live.

To have compassion for each other. Even better.