A few days ago, I went to my favorite clothing store. I’d seen a particular jacket in the Sunday ad and thought it might work for me. I started daydreaming about what outfits it might work with, how I would look in it (fabulous, of course!), how this one piece would be THE key piece of my summer wardrobe, the one that worked with every other item of clothing in my closet. It was Superman, disguised as a green jacket with a drawstring waist, god-like in its power to rescue my outfits from banality. Supergarment!
I searched throughout the store. It wasn’t in the expected department, so I spent a while hunting it down. I was determined to find Supergarment. Finally, I spied it hanging on a rack. I drew closer, breath bated, eager to try it on. The tag in back read:
Made in Bangladesh.
I didn’t move. Suddenly, my mind filled with the images I’d seen on television about the garment factory disaster: the rubble, the searchers, the dead, the miraculous (and far too few) survivors. Over a thousand people died there. Died, while doing their jobs. Died, while making clothes like this jacket.
Was Supergarment made at that factory? I had no way of knowing. Did the woman who cut that fabric, pieced it together, sewed those seams–did her body now lie in a grave? Was she being mourned? What had her life been given for? So that I could have a cheap piece of clothing that, frankly, I didn’t need?
I didn’t try it on. I didn’t touch it. I couldn’t.
Because if I had, I would always wonder if my seamstress was dead.
I’d wonder if paying a low price for clothing was worth a human being’s life.
I”d wonder what part my obsession with the lowest price played in that disaster and other, ongoing, tragedies that I don’t see.
I’d wonder, and I’d grieve, and I’d touch that fabric and wonder how many tears were woven into these threads.