Being A Social Justice Warrior Is Hard

At the beginning of 2018, I was an ignorant but blissful fool, just trying to navigate the world as a social justice warrior.

It was 2018, merely one year ago, that I decided to give up fast fashion. Fashion that is fast. It wasn’t even that I wanted more sustainable fashion or clothes that would last longer, I really just wanted to put my money where my mouth was. If I was going to be against sex trafficking, I was going to be against labor trafficking. Read: I didn’t want a 6-year-old trafficked child to make my clothes in some factory in a third-world country.

So I gave it up. No more Forever 21 or H&M or Zara. These places are relatively cheap (kind of: when did Zara get so expensive), so I figured they would have a lower risk of their clothes being made in sweat shops.

For all of 2018, I pretty much only shopped at Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters and the occasional thrift store. Listen, I had zero reason to believe these places were ok and morally conscious except for the fact that they are a little bit more expensive, so I figured the labor situations were fine. Or at least not bad.

Well you know what happens when you figure.

A few months ago, at the beginning of 2019, I found an article on The Cut about how another woman gave up fast fashion for the year. Another social justice warrior just like me, I see. I clicked and read. She wrote that she uses an app called Good on You.

So I download the app and began searching.

And that’s when everything I once knew became a lie.


I first search my one and only, my beginning, my end, Nordstrom.

This was shocking and heartbreaking and honestly, I’m still not doing well.

So then I search Topshop, which is the main brand I buy at Nordstrom.

Topshop’s rating was a little bit better, but not great. The Good on You app does an average rating based on labor, environment and animal. I really only care about the labor if I’m being honest and that seems to be where brands fail most often.

So then I search Urban Outfitters.

“Not good enough.”

Free People, you know like people being free and earth and peace and flair jeans and chokers that cost $75.

“Not good enough.”

So then I’m like, ok I’ll check the brands that I KNOW are bad. Looking at you, Forever 21 and H&M.

Forever 21 was also “not good enough,” meaning it’s in the SAME CATEGORY AS NORDSTROM.

H&M had 3 out of 5 stars with a “it’s a start rating,” which was honestly mind-blowing and also sad because I don’t even like H&M.

Then I was like let’s check out Zara. You know Zara, the company that was once accused of having a rat sewn into a dress and accused of having a “help me” message sewn into some clothing from the poor workers. Or something like that, I don’t wanna fact check.

Welp, their rating was also “it’s a start” and more specifically, their labor rating was “good.” So what do I know, I know simply nothing.

Basically all I can buy is Reformation and I’m too fat and poor for that brand.

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