Art, Fashion, Slave Labor

H&M comes under pressure to act on child-labour cotton | Business | The Observer

 The other day I came across this article posted by the online maga’z The Guardian|The Observer. The article spoke about the fashion international retailer H&MHennes & Mauritz AB (operating as H&M) is a Swedish  multinational retail-clothing company, known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children (wiki 2013). Apparently the charity Anti-Slavery International is putting pressure on Britain to sever its ties with clothing buyers who purchase cotton from Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan according to the article uses child labor to pick its cotton.

Cotton in Uzbekistan

I found this article interesting because just a few years ago I was invited to participate in an art show done at my university. The art show was call “Beautiful Response”, all participates could share as many painting as they wanted and give a brief description of why they painted it and what inspired them to paint. I entered a few paintings and one of them was called “Cotton Balls”.

Cotton Balls, Oil Painting, 2011 by Carmen Renee Ireland –
carmen-ireland.artistwebsites.com

Original I painted “Cotton Balls” for Black History Month for a friend who’s job had set up an art gallery for Black History Month. The art gallery would feature paintings reflecting the struggles or inspirational people who stood against slavery or fought for civil rights in America. I searched the internet to find a picture I though would represent the women that picked cotton during slavery times in America. The picture I found was of an African woman with her baby strapped to her back picking cotton. The picture made me wonder if she was a modern day slave and it also made me wonder if the conditions for her and her child were better or worse as it was for my ancestors?

Slavery involves so many abuses, no wages, low wages, child labor, long hours without food or water, working in the hot sun the list goes on and on. Today I enjoy the privilege of not working in or under those conditions but creating that painting made me really think about my cotton jeans. Did a modern day slave woman pick the cotton that they were made from? This made me ponder the freedom I have today. I get to leave my favorite retail clothing store in America content on my fabulous new jeans I just purchased. As a fashion free spirited lady who love jeans I get excited about were and when I’m going to wear my new jeans; however, this time I didn’t ponder that. I wondered if somewhere in the world a modern day slave is suffering who maybe have been the one who picked the cotton for my new jeans –  just a thought.

 

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