Where Am I Wearing
The book Where am I Wearing is a description of Kelsey’s tour to various countries, factories and people responsible for making his clothes (Timmerman 5). The author specializes in casual writing mainly in matters related to globalization and tours. In pursuit of concrete information relevant to his literature works, he employs various tactics such as undercover investigation and visiting regions with unfavorable states of affairs. His participation in the Boy Scouts Movement and certification as a SCUBA diver made him love adventure, which is one of the requirements of his writing.
Moreover, he is a qualified anthropologist, a profession that has helped him learn the cultures of other societies all over the world. He was also in the shoe business, and this makes him have a better appreciation of the fashion industry, in addition to efficient travel writing. In this book, he not only focuses on the different countries manufacturing clothes but also addresses globalization. He details the process involved in making different types of clothes and the people behind this lucrative and vast industry. From his work, it is evident that not all individuals in this business get substantial returns from their efforts (Timmerman 9).
The main purpose of this book is to place a human factor in globalization by connecting the international manufacturers of these garments to the customers. Kelsey accomplishes this objective by analyzing the employees in these companies in terms of their family units, challenges, achievements, and their ways of life. For example, he takes a trip to an Ethiopian shoe manufacturing company that has uplifted the living standards of many individuals through employment. On the other hand, he addresses how an increase in food commodity prices and customer reduction because of worldwide inflation has led to poor living standards of the factories’ employees (Timmerman 24).
Kelsey makes his first trip to Honduras to find the people behind the manufacture of his favorite tee-shirt. However, he does not acquire significant information because of his lack of any acquaintances in the factory. Although he does not access the factory premises, he is lucky to talk to one of the company’s workforce after his shift concerning the conditions in the firm. Furthermore, this motivates him to get more information from other countries. Consequently, he travels to Bangladesh, China, America and Cambodia. All other trips turn out successful as illustrated in his book.
In Bangladesh, he searches for the factory that manufactures Jingle These boxers, his denims, T-shirt and sandals. He disguises himself as a customer interested in undergarments in order to access the manufacturing industry. He encounters immense child labor in this industrial unit. In Cambodia, where 75% of exports are from the textile industry, housing facilities are insufficient to an extent that eight female workers have to share a 96 square foot servant quarter. While visiting a sandal manufacturer in China, he realizes that the employees in this company work for extra hours without compensation (Timmerman 40).
Additionally, the managerial staff does not implement the rules protecting these personnel. The workers have to manage their income in order to sustain them and help their relatives in the rural areas. However, he demonstrates a different scenario in the American textile factory that manufactures pants. Kelsey illustrates the similarity of the conditions in these companies and the challenges faced by the workforce in relation to the American industry. He asserts that the textile industry in other countries is harsh, compared to that in the USA.
Through this literature piece, Kelsey addresses several elements of the textile industry. To start with, he describes poverty in these regions. All his travel destinations comprise underprivileged living conditions of the workers in the garment trade. For example, in Bangladesh, there are many street children. He pays for twenty of them to visit a recreational park, an amount equal to a trip to Disney World for an American toddler. On the other hand, eight Cambodian workers have to share a tiny house because of their meager earnings. Likewise, most Chinese employees leave their children upcountry since they are not in a position to sustain them in urban areas (Timmerman 45).
The issue of child labor is also evident in Kelsey’s manuscript. He bases this theme on his tour to Bangladesh. He observes that most employees in this firm are juveniles. He attributes this practice to the lack of strict rules to protect minors from such exploitation. Nonetheless, Kelsey does not oppose this activity. Instead, he argues that certain situations necessitate such actions for the sake of survival. In his book he asserts, “My own conclusion, after visiting Bangladesh, is that we should not be ashamed that our clothes are made by children so much as ashamed that we live in a world where child labor is often necessary for survival” (Timmerman 39).
Kelsey also discusses the lack of active laws governing the fabric industry in these regions. For example, Bangladesh lacks policies that prevent child labor. A tour to a company that manufactures underwear in this country reveals that juvenile exploitation is a common practice in this firm. On the other hand, China’s laws on employees’ rights are dormant. The workers have to work for excess hours than the required time without compensation. In Cambodia, the eight females share a room entitled to one person because of insufficient income. Although this region’s exports comprises of a large portion of the industry’s products, the benefits do not cascade to the employees in the production sector.
In my opinion, the ideas in this literature piece are challenging. The information provided by Kelsey leaves one in a dilemma. I cannot help but wonder if buying clothes related to suffering lives is appropriate. On one hand, buying these outfits may support the exploitation of the employees in the production sector while at the same time depressing fair trade in the industry. However, refusal to purchase these products may result into the closure of some of these factories. This will lead to increased jobless individuals, hence increase in poverty levels. The families relying on these companies for survival will be increasingly financially insecure.
After reading this book, I view life in a different light. Moreover, I have more knowledge regarding the textile industry. I now know the extreme hardships that various people have to experience in order to produce a quality commodity. While we enjoy the quality clothes in our closets, the people behind its manufacturing have to put up with abject poverty. Likewise, this book has made me appreciate the quality of my life. In most cases, we complain due to lack of luxurious lives while a number of families struggle to get the necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter.
Timmerman, Kelsey. Where Am I Wearing?: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2009. Print.