Feminist T-shirt scandal: blame fashion, not feminism – Telegraph.co.uk

It doesn’t matter how hard you try to dress up the fashion industry as
empowering to women – it just isn’t. It isn’t empowering to the women at the
CMT factory, who would have to work for two weeks solid just to be able to
afford the £45 fashion statement in question, and it isn’t empowering to
women over a size 16, all of whom would fail to fit into said t-shirt. Last
week, Lena Dunham, writer and creator of Girls, was asked what she
thought about the t-shirts, and replied that if feminism has to become a
brand to make a change, then so be it. (It should be noted that this was
before the sweatshop allegations surfaced). Dunham, as ever, makes an
interesting point – but if the brand can only succeed at the expense of
other, more vulnerable women, then should we want to buy into it at all?

Labour’s Harriet Harman wears the T-shirt in the House of Commons

This is one of the risks you run when you let the polished talons of fashion
loose on something as serious as feminism – it gets turned into another
commodifiable trend, like harem pants and shearling coats. So Karl
Lagerfeld’s most recent Chanel show ended with a gaggle of supermodels
strutting down the catwalk waving placards proclaiming slogans such as
‘HISTORY IS HER STORY’ and ‘BE YOUR OWN STYLIST’, with one fashion editor
describing it as “the birth of feminism’s fifth wave”. If that’s the case, I
hope it drowns me. All the women on Lagerfeld’s catwalk looked exactly the
same – predominantly white, predominantly tall, predominantly skinny – and
Lagerfeld himself has called out the curvaceous several times, once calling
Adele “a little too fat”. (Funny, because when I look at her, I just see a
woman who is a little too talented.) Lagerfeld perfectly sums up what is so
mad about the fashion industry – that it makes an octogenarian misogynist
its High Priest and allows him to dictate what women should wear.

I am not fashionable, but I have friends who are, who work in fashion, even.
They tell me that fashion allows women to express themselves, that it makes
them feel good, and how could anyone knock that? In light of this weekend’s
revelations, I think the women at the CMT factory in Mauritius could. At 62
pence an hour, they don’t even have the freedom to express themselves
through their voices, let alone anything as luxurious as their clothes.



A Channel 4 documentary aired last night claiming that many baby products
contain potentially dangerous levels of arsenic. Arsenic!
The Dispatches report
found that Organix wholegrain baby rice had
more than twice the amount that the EU considers safe for young children.
Biona rice cakes with quinoa didn’t fair much better. In fact, anything with
rice in it – the staple diet of a newly weaned baby – ranked pretty high.

“The scale of what we’ve uncovered is really quite shocking,” said Andy
Meharg, a food safety expert. “There is no other food item that has high
levels of a carcinogen in it naturally.”

Like most mums, my handbag is not fit for purpose without at least one packet
of rice cakes in it. My coat pockets, once home to lipsticks and phone
numbers, are now lined with the half-chewed remnants of rice cakes. They are
probably doing me terrible harm.

But then I remember that the EU thinks vacuum cleaners are bad for us, too.
And possibly hairdryers. Plus, given that most of the worst arsenic
offenders are organic brands, does this mean that the much-scorned
children’s supper of fish fingers, chips and peas is back on the menu?

I think I’ll take this arsenic study with a pinch of salt. Not too much, mind.
Wouldn’t want to upset the health and safety brigade.



may be over, but there is still a row raging in Folkestone over zombies. A
local councillor has led an attack against people who decided to dress up as
the undead to raise money for a local children’s hospital.

“What kind of warped society do we live in where people dress up as half-dead,
gory creatures and parade through the streets, all in the name of fun and
entertainment?” wrote Rodica Wheeler in a letter to the local paper.

“Without wishing to resort to an old zombie stereotype,” responded the
actor Kevin Wilson, who starred in Shaun of the Dead, “the critics of this
fun event would have nothing to fear from the living dead… as they only go
after brains.”

For the record, I’m pro-zombie. My favourite box set is The
Walking Dead
, and I’ve just finished reading the glorious Girl
With All the Gifts
, a novel by the British writer M R Carey about a
world ravaged by “hungries”.

Zombies were once merely a sub-set of the horror genre, but now they’re a
genre all of their very own. My theory is that, ironically, they make us
feel safe. If we’re focused on a make-believe world dominated by the undead,
then we don’t have to think about the real one. Just something for Rodica
Wheeler and her anti-zombie lot to chew on.


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