Saturday, February 22, 2014

Blog #2

Michelle Tin

Today marks the end of week two of the Be Green Challenge, and I am ashamed to admit that I have already cracked. As expected, it was no problem for me to avoid unnecessary spending at school. Unfortunately, I went home last weekend, and, as predicted, I was faced with consumerism as a means of social interaction.

Before even returning home, I knew I didn't stand a chance.
My best friend texted me saying she was going to be home for the weekend and wanted a day of pampering on Sunday. She wanted the works: hair cut, manicure, pedicure, and eyebrow threading. How was I going to follow her around all day and do nothing? I decided to maybe get a manicure but otherwise abide by the challenge for the rest of the weekend.

Then, Saturday came. I had been sitting for hours driving home and was in dire need of some physical activity, so my mother and I walked around a mall. I had little to no intention of purchasing anything and told my mother about the challenge. Sadly, one walk around the mall and two shopping bags later, I was done. We first went to Hollister, where they had an additional 50% off of select items. I could not pass up the opportunity to get a new work blouse and comfy t-shirt on sale! My mom paid for this purchase, so I technically was still adhering to the challenge. We went on to Forever 21, where I purchased a maxi skirt and a couple new necklaces for work. I used an old gift card, so I also kind of didn't spend money, but I did still give in to consumerism and supported Forever 21, a company I would later learn to be exploitative and deplorable. As we walked back to the car, I felt so ashamed that I had given up so quickly. I tried to reason that most of my purchases were for work, and my mother tried to reason that it was our "bonding time."

Having realized that I was already done, I gave up and let myself get a manicure on Sunday. As we sat there, allowing a friendly Vietnamese couple paint our nails, I couldn't help but wonder how they ended up in the stereotypically Vietnamese-dominated profession. I tried to ask the woman some questions, but didn't know what would be considered too personal as it was only my second time getting a manicure. I was able to find out that she had been in the business for about 15 years, and they had a son who was embarrassed when his father had nail polish on his hands after a day at the salon. Three girls came in with their grandmother. Apparently, the mother had insisted on manicures and pedicures for two of the girls. One girl said a pedicure wasn't necessary as the last one was still fine, but the grandmother was adamant that the mother had specified mani/pedi, and that was that. The grandmother left, and the girls proceeded to get their nails done. It amazed me that teenage girls were getting there nails done on a regular basis, and not only that, but that it was demanded of them by their mother. While my friend and I made an effort to talk to the couple, these girls were on their phones the whole time and hardly acknowledged the person doing their nails. It never ceases to amaze and disgust me how people treat salespeople and other service people. If only it was clear to everyone that these are PEOPLE, not OBJECTS, but I digress.

Employee Hani Khan is alleging that she was fired from the Abercrombie outlet where she worked in California for wearing a headscarf.

Hani Khan, a former stockroom worker at a Hollister Co. store in San Mateo, Calif, claims she was fired for refusing to remove her Muslim headscarf.

Hani Khan, a former stockroom worker at a Hollister Co. store in San Mateo.

The article "Abercrombie and Fitch Settles $40 Million Discrimination Suit," particularly stuck out to me because I shopped at Hollister, a store under Abercrombie and Fitch Co. The article mentions the racial discrimination in employment practices at the stores, and I have read about both racial and religious discrimination at Hollister Co. stores in the past. Around my hometown, there is a large Asian American population, so the employees are a fairly even mixture of Asian and Caucasian. However, reading the "uniform" requirements, it was apparent that they were determined to only allow a particular type of person to work there and wanted a specific look. Reading that a Hollister employee was fired for refusing to take off her headscarf or that Asian Americans were denied employment for advertisement or associate positions is something that needs to be brought to attention more often. Only the ignorant would believe that racial discrimination is a thing of the past.

I deeply apologize for this blog turned semi-rant, but I just feel that although I did fail to stick to the Be Green Challenge, my eyes opened up to a multitude of problems in our consumerist society.

Sources: "Abercrombie and Fitch Settles $40 Million Discrimination Suit." Reader.

The Associated Press. "Federal judge rules Abercrombie & Fitch wrongly fired Muslim woman who wore a headscarf." NY Daily News. 2013.

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