Archives for January 2018

The Truth of Where Our Clothes Come From

Today I want to share with you a topic that may potentially be new to you. Like many injustices of the world, those who benefit from these practices know it’s within their interest to keep the realities of their industry secret. They understand that if the public and those driving their business financially through consumption were aware of the truth of their industry, their profits would dwindle and suffer.

I’m sure as you were growing up your parents, teachers, coaches and mentors in life probably didn’t share this information with you. Not necessarily to keep you in ignorance, but likely because they themselves were not aware.

With any new understanding of a harsh and saddening truth, I encourage you to receive what I’m about to share with you with an open heart and mind.

The truth of this reality dawned on me when I watched the documentary “The True Cost.”

“The True Cost” is a documentary film about the clothing and fashion industry and explores the many repercussions and conditions that exist due to our demand for fast, affordable fashion.

Watching this film completely rocked my world, transformed my life and changed the way I look at certain things in the world. I want to share this film’s important message with you, because I think it’s absolutely necessary that you too know what’s going on.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “Where do my clothes come from?” Consider the outfit you are wearing now. Whether you are reading this blog post over a cup of tea in your pajamas or at your office in a tailored suit, stop to reflect on the countless processes the textiles that rest on your body at this moment had to go through before composing your stylish attire.

Behind every article of clothing we own are countless individuals.

And it’s time we begin considering how our purchases impact their lives.

So how did we arrive to this point? While America once produced the majority of its own clothing goods, within the past 50 years the amount of domestic production has dwindled with the era of “Fast Fashion.” “Fast Fashion” evolved from fashion retailers manufacturing clothing rapidly that captured designs of the catwalk to the hands of average consumers at prices they could afford.

The True Cost

But how could retailers afford to push the consistently evolving fashion trends at prices the public could stomach? The answer: by paying unlivable wages to garment workers.

The industry is saturated with clothing brands and companies that are doing all that they can to have their line produced in 3rd world countries, places like Cambodia and Bangladesh, for as cheap as they possibly can. This allows them to sell clothes at cheaper or reduced prices compared to their competitors, while still profiting in the trillions on the backs and hardships of outsourced, cheap labor in foreign nations.

“Fast Fashion” is created at the expense of workers who are not treated fairly. Workers are not paid livable wages, making it difficult to impossible to cover some of the most basic needs we may take for granted daily, such as feeding themselves and their children or having a safe place to lay their heads at night.

We are increasingly disconnected from the people who make our goods as companies outsource to nations where workers do not have the same rights and protections as those in the West do, intentionally exploiting their vulnerability. Garment workers are some of the poorest paid people in the world, a factor we can no longer ignore as consumers.

Conditions

The conditions of garment factories are appalling.

Take a walk in another’s shoes for a moment…

You are a poor, uneducated woman in a developing nation. Garment work is the only livelihood available to you, therefore, despite the trying circumstances, you’re left with little choice to feed and support yourself and your family. You are forced to work 14 to 16 hour days, seven days a week. You receive inadequate rest between shifts and are denied adequate breaks throughout the day. You are not compensated for working over time. The factory you work in is cramped, hot and unsafe, hazardous circumstances that lead to work related injuries and factory fires.

Over the past three decades, 50 major factory fires have resulted in hundreds of workers’ deaths and thousands injured. (Source: Waronwant.org)

Workers succumb to such pressures because they live in an economic climate that provides them with little to no alternative options of livelihood. For many, this is the best paying job available to them in their country so the need to compile with inhumane and unjust practices is high.

Factory building collapses, unsafe working conditions and their immense consequences are a result of us consumers wanting to look good by keeping up with the newest trends and fashion.

Now that we know what’s on the other end of this supply chain, we can refuse to stand by and support it.

Environmental Impact

With clothes available in rapidly changing trends at record low costs, as a culture, we are now relating to the clothes we wear as disposable. The times where clothes were individually made and tailored and sold at prices accurately reflecting the resources and workforce behind a garment may seem far behind us. This shift in our perception of clothing’s worth and value has resulted in the average American tossing out 82 pounds of textile waste each year. Pair this with the 400% increase in apparel consumption in the past two decades alone and we’re left with a dangerous formula for speedy textile waste creation. (Source: TheTrueCost.org)

The fashion industry’s footprint is tremendous, ranking as the second largest polluter after the oil industry.

Hands Red With Exploited Labor

The culprits of the fast fashion industry are familiar names. Companies such as Forever 21, H&M, Nike, Adidas, JcPenny, Walmart, Gap, Zara, Victoria’s Secret, Sears, Urban Outfitters and SO many more are amongst those engaging these practices.

You may potentially be swimming in a pool of guilt as you pull at your Forever 21 crop top and H&M joggers.

But please, do not beat yourself up for past actions.

There is no sense or justice in tormenting yourself for past purchases. I encourage you to empower yourself with this knowledge to make more sound and conscious shopping choices moving forward.

I too was shocked when I learned of these realities. I knew I had to share this knowledge with as many people as possible, because when I became aware of the implication of what I once perceived as innocent shopping hauls, I knew I had a responsibility to no longer support the unsafe and basic human right violations of other people’s lives.

Much like when I learned of the plight of animals in factory farms, I knew I had the power to vote with my dollar, and I wanted to vote with integrity and compassion.

What Can We Do?

We’re really in control as consumerism.

We get to decide whether we want to support these unethical practices or not. There are so many alternative ways to purchase your clothing. I want to share some of those options with you now.

  1. Buy Fair Trade: There is an abundance of companies committed to providing fair wages and safe working conditions while supporting local sustainability and empowering workers and farmers in the production line. Companies such as Patagonia, American Apparel and PACT Wear are brands you can feel proud to support. You can find a more extensive list of fair trade apparel lines here.
  1. Boycott Fast Fashion and Buy Second Hand: Purchasing used, lightly worn garments is not only an ethical and environmental choice, but a financial one too. You can find unique, second hand clothing at a fraction of the cost compared to purchasing them new. This is a great way to still wear recent fashion trends without directly supporting unethical brands. You can also shop secondhand online. I purchase most of my clothes on Poshmark, where individuals sell stylish used clothing at fair prices.
  1. Host Clothing Swaps: Hold a clothing exchange with your friends! Not only is this a great way to trade valued clothing that you no longer wear for articles that you will, but it’s also a great excuse to gather good company. That dress you’ve only worn once that’s been idling in your closet for months may look better on your best friend. Don’t worry, she probably has something that vibes better with you too!
  1. Slow Down Your Cycle: The current culture of “Fast Fashion” suggests that trends rotate multiple seasons per year, deeming our clothing items “outdated” and “disposable.” Can you commit to wearing purchased items at least 30 times? Slow down and break this wasteful cycle.

I encourage you to really think about this.

Where are you putting your money? Do you agree with what you’re supporting? If not, why are you contributing to them?

There are so many other options. Please do not turn your head to what is happening. Your consumer choices make a difference.

Fashion can be a joyous and creative art form and means to express ourselves. We can display our playful, fun side with explosions of bright colors and whacky patterns or share mysterious or calm aspects of our personalities with cool earthy tones and flowing, dancing material. We can still do this all, without supporting the cruel and inhumane practices and conditions of the fast fashion industry.

Let’s commit to living a more connected life.

Just as we strive to be responsible with our food, bodies and mind, it’s vital that we do the same for the individuals who make our clothes. By shifting our practices, we inform brands that the lives of these workers matter to us, as do their voices.

Show them that you care.

I know I do.

Mahalo,

Alyse

“I hope people open their eyes and hearts to the simple truth that there are people behind the clothes that we wear.”
–Andrew Morgan, Director of “The True Cost”

Why I Don’t Wear a Bra

In our modern double-standard society of the sexualization of women’s breasts, pressuring societal expectations, and championing cries of “Free the Nipple,” it comes as no surprise that some women may feel reluctant to abandon the discomfort of bras.

Its my hope that my experience can give you the inspiration, assurance and confidence to explore and try this alternative way of living too.

I haven’t worn a traditional underwire bra in over a year and I can’t tell you enough how proud and happy of my decision I am. I was first intrigued to try going bra- free for the same reason I explore anything “radical in my life.”

I wanted to try something new, challenge myself and see what I would learn.

This pursuit would fall under similar ventures as trying no make-up, juice cleanses, discontinuing shaving and no longer wearing nail polish.

I have radically changed my lifestyle in terms of health, cleaning products, body hair removal, what I am consuming, where I live and things I do on a regular basis, so going bra free was another opportunity to explore what works best for me.

From middle school to my early years of college, I wore push up bras. For you who are not familiar, push up bras have a lot of extra padding and push your breasts up creating the illusion of larger breasts. As a smaller, petite person with smaller breasts, I felt pressured to wear push up bras to look and feel attractive. And that’s something I was lead to believe through my conditioning.

Perhaps you can relate and have felt as if your boobs needed to be different to be perfect. Well let me tell you, your boobs are perfect because they are natural… natural on your body.

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and we should strive to celebrate our aesthetic diversity, including breast size and shape.

You don’t need to change your chest in any way. I’m grateful I know this now, even if I didn’t know it then. During college, I started to realize how uncomfortable these bras were, and with an increase in exercise I started wearing sports bras more and more. The difference in comfort was so apparent! And not wearing a bra to bed was even MORE comfortable.

I was truly given the assurance I needed when I met my friend Erin a year and a half ago. Erin didn’t wear bras and made a video sharing of her experience. In it she spoke to the constant discomfort she felt wearing bras and the questions that had arisen for her regarding conforming to society’s expectations in the face of obvious decrease in value of life. It was her video that gave me the inspiration to try it out and see how it felt.

She’s fairly petite like I am and doesn’t have large boobs, which many people will say is the only body type able to try going bra free. Many women with larger breasts have told me that its not possible for them to go braless and that they’re concerned about being in pain when exercising. This is completely understandable. Even as a smaller bust woman, I find more comfort in wearing a sports bra for support while I’m working out. So I can only imagine this is that much more true for women with larger breasts.

Perhaps there are also shirts you like to wear a bra with. I hope this does not leave you feeling limited in exploring the comfort of going bra-free all other times. Maybe you want to go bra-free only when you’re in the comfort of your home as a start. Go for it! Though I’d also encourage you to explore the more comfortable alternatives to a traditional padded or underwire bra, such as bralettes or bandeaus.

The topic of going bra-less often conquers the “controversial” issue of nipples showing. If there’s one take-away from this discussion, I’d beg for you to consider, is to challenge this conventional norm. While its socially acceptable in most places for men to be shirtless, women are shunned for allowing their nipples to be visible under their clothes.

Question these expectations and instead ask yourself…
Why does this expectation of “modesty” exists?
Do you want your nipples showing?
Does it seem inappropriate? Why?
Is it disgusting or weird?
What if our nipples get hard?
Do we shun away?
Is it okay to look?

Women’s nipples should not be sexualized the way that they are. Men have nipples. Are they expected to hide and cover them the way women do? I know there might be discomfort in addressing the subject, but you need to get over that, because nipples are NATURAL. Just as fingers and armpits are natural! You should not have to hide or feel embarrassed over what is natural. Be proud of it instead. Be proud of the shape of your breast, the amount that they show in a shirt, or don’t show!

Be proud of your body.
Challenge the norms.

When it comes down to it, this “experiment” helped me understand that I don’t see how wearing a bra benefits me in any way. If this resonates with you, maybe you want to give it a try too!

~ Gravitate towards and embrace comfort. Deny and reject anything that compromises your quality of life ~
Mahalo,

Alyse

How To Become the Best Version of Yourself

We all have the power to choose and take actions everyday that bring us closer to being the best versions of ourselves. Today I will be sharing with you 5 tips and practices to do just that!

Tip #1. Engage in positive self-talk and affirmations

When you wake up in the morning look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself, “I love you.”

Its okay if this feels a little awkward at first. That’s common for lots of people. If it does feel strange, don’t feel pressured to look yourself in the mirror. You can do this practice when laying or sitting up in bed, closing your eyes or keeping them open and saying, “I love myself… I love myself… I love myself unconditionally!” You can say this out loud, silently in your mind or written out on paper.

However you choose to do it, commit to say this to yourself every single morning.

Loving yourself is essential for becoming the best version of yourself.

In addition to speaking words of love to yourself, its super important to become aware of when you put yourself down. There’s ample bullies in the world! Why be one to yourself?

For every negative thing you say about yourself, whether about your body or character, be sure to say that many positive things to overpower and retrain habitual thought patterns that put you down.

The more you are able to do this, the stronger your awareness of these limiting tendencies will become, making you all the more able to dissolve them.

Another tip is to fill your mind with positive affirmations and to be sure to say them in the present tense, as if you already feel this way and believe these things to be true. Instead of saying “I am going to live in abundance,” say, “I am living in abundance right now.”

         » “I deserve respect in relationships.”

         » “I am worthy of being surrounded by inspiring people.”

         » “I am worthy of feeling healthy and vibrant.”

Say these positive affirmations to yourself and fill your mind with positivity.

Tip #2. Practice conscious consumerism

I know most commonly this term is associated with purchasing ethically sourced and produced merchandise, but I am also extending it to use it as an umbrella term for just about everything!

» Consuming social media

» Consuming things that your family says to you

» Consuming photos that you’re seeing

» Consuming videos or movies you are watching

» Consuming posts that you’re reading

Be conscious of the things you are consuming.

Examine what you’re tolerating to come into your mind.

Make sure that your mind is not being filled with negativity and a mindset of lack. I encourage you to fill your social media and your real life relationships with people who inspire you, support, love and care for you and want to see you succeed. Fill your life with the people who help you realize just how much you are capable of.

Access what content you are taking in and what messages, attitudes and values they add to your life.

Eliminate things that do not serve you and do not uplift you.

This will make room for positivity to come into your life and this, will in turn, will allow you to get closer to actualizing the best version of yourself.

Tip #3. Expand your knowledge and your awareness

There are three particular ways I want to share with you to expand your insight.

1. Engage in meaningful conversations with other people and learn from their personal experience.

2. Learn from your own experiences. Go out there and do things! Learning through lived experiences is probably the most effective way to integrate knowledge and lessons into your life. Your experiences and the wisdom derived from them are valid.

3. Expand your knowledge and awareness through reading books or listening to audio books.

Consider these book recommendations to inform and transform the way you relate to yourself, the world and reach your greatest potential:

“The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer

“The Surrender Experiment” by Michael A. Singer

“You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero

Another tip to expand your knowledge and awareness is to get stoked about self growth. I know I may sound like a nerd when I say that, but I mean it! Get excited about learning and experiencing new things and growing as a person, because this will broaden your perspective on the world and change the way you interact with it. It will change your personal dynamic and it will help shape you as a person.

Tip # 4. Take care of your body

It is important to maintain a healthy body inside and out. In addition to being conscious of the things you’re consuming via media or real life interactions and relationships, as well as taking care of your emotional and mental wellbeing, its just as important to take care of your physical body.

Choose to fuel your body with nutrient dense food.

» Plant foods

» Whole foods

» Fresh fruits and vegetables

» Stay hydrated.

If you’re fueling your body with nutrient dense foods you’re going to enhance your energy levels and have more mental clarity. These benefits, along with many others, are going to make you feel the best and be that best version of yourself that you’re seeking.

While high vibrant, nutrient-packed foods play a key role in optimal health, so does getting enough rest. This is vital! I’m sure you know what its like to be super exhausted. Strive to get adequate rest on a regular basis. Try not to run yourself down if you can avoid it. If you feel run down replenish your energy. Take time for yourself. Sleep extra if you need to. Journal. Go for a walk. Curl up in your bed. Do whatever it takes to care for your body.

And of course, get active! You want to make sure that you’re maintaining a healthy, fit and strong body. So do what it takes to get there in a way that feels best for you. Explore and choose a movement practice that excites you and leaves you feeling accomplished after each practice, session or class.

Tip # 5. Challenge yourself

Push your limits.

Step out of your comfort.

Try new things.

It is often when we experience discomfort or unfamiliar territory that our greatest growth occurs.

If you’re scared to try something new, take a paced approach by first choosing a baby step. What is a tiny, realistic goal that you’ve considered pursuing, but simply have not yet begun? Start there.

By starting with the tiniest, little goal and succeeding you will gain confidence and empowerment to make it to your next, bigger goal. And when you achieve those goals you can look back and think, “Wow, I can’t believe I accomplished that. I never thought I could do that!”

If you are feeling discouraged before you have even begun, you are denying yourself the opportunity to progress. Give yourself permission to try. There is no failure in trying. Celebrate your efforts and before you know it you are going to be doing things you never thought were possible.

I’m going to tell you a secret…. This means you’re growing!

~ You are worthy, deserving and capable of becoming this best version of yourself ~
Mahalo,

Alyse