Not very long ago, I was caught up in a ‘shopping addiction’. Obviously at the time I didn’t think it was harmful, but in retrospect I can see how compulsive my shopping habits were. Online shopping was the worst. It was so easy. Click, click, buy. The anticipation of receiving a package to my door only made it more exciting. I was on a moderate income from full time work, and had no children. The shopping world was my oyster.
I justified purchases with their “hijabi approved” quality. Dressing modestly, and especially dressing well modestly was an expensive choice, not particularly in individual pieces, but in how many of an item I “needed”. I “needed” rows of maxi dresses, maxi skirts, tunic tops, blazers, jackets, palazzo pants and peg leg trousers. The more the better. And OF COURSE I needed as many different scarves as possible because I had to wear one everyday and I wanted as much variety as possible.
Or so I thought.
Sales were my weakness. On certain websites I could buy four items, all on sale, for under $200 with free shipping. Never mind the quality of the garments (how could I have known the quality when I was buying online?). They. were. on. SALE!!!! A further 30% OFF from the SALE PRICE!!! BUY BUY BUY!!!
Alas, this was not to last. After I had my first child, I worked for one year then eventually quit.
I was income-less.
Online shopping (from my own money, not my husband’s, which I try to spend carefully because I DIDN’T EARN IT) became impossible.
And I’m sorry to say that this is when I was forced to open my eyes to all the wasteful spending I engaged in whilst I had been working. Because I simply could not afford to spend the way I used to, I started looking at what I already had. Most of my clothes were not great quality. They were ‘trendy’, ‘seasonal’ and not classic, staple pieces that would last years. Neither were they really a reflection of me. They were impulse buys, informed by celebrity style and advertising.
Becoming a mother resulted in a huge change of perspective on the utter proliferation of the use of chemicals in every thing that we consume. I didn’t want to give my daughter food sprayed with pesticides and genetically modified- at the seed stage. This broadened to the cleaning products I used at home, and inevitably, the clothes I bought for her.
Why would I not apply the same standards to myself?
The true cost of my wardrobe was not only in the money that I had wasted, but it was the human and environmental impact of my careless, vain choices that shocked me.
Since starting this blog and Instagram profile one thing I’ve been pushing is that the notion of ‘modesty’ does not simply mean ‘cover up your skin- and wear loose clothing’. ‘Haya’ (or ‘modesty) in Islam encapsulates a much, much broader spectrum than one’s clothing (for women AND men). It is the quality that should inform all of our choices and our actions.
From the Quran:
“Do not be extravagant, for Allaah does not love the wasteful” [Quran, 6:141]. And He Says (what means): “But waste not by excess, for Allaah loves not the wasters” [Quran, 7:31]. And (what means): “Squander not in the manner of a spendthrift. For wasters are the brothers of the Satan, and the Satan is to his Lord ungrateful” [Quran, 17:26-27]
There is so much to say on this topic. There is so much that we are simply ignorant of, or just don’t care enough about. If I were to list all the problems with the fashion industry and our consumerist habits, this would become an essay. So here is my ultimate point to sum this all up:
We must begin to shift our consumer habits. We must buy ethically, intelligently and consciously. We need to buy less, more expensive, but quality clothing that is ethically and sustainably made. We must place the impacts and consequences of our spending habits on the environment and fellow brothers and sisters first- before style, fashion and OOTD’s.
Take a look at your own spending habits. Do you care about what the true cost of your wardrobe is?
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