Authenticity is both the best and worst thing about having a portion (or all, lets be honest) of your life online. I say "best" because being truly real about your struggles and joys is the best way I know to create and encourage community and genuine connection. And I say "worst" because sometimes being your real self is down right scary and embarrassing.
I've laid the not-so-pretty parts of my soul bare before and each time I'm met with grace and encouragement, but this time, when it comes to something I shamelessly promote and wholeheartedly believe in, I'm finding it harder to say. But, like most things in life, it's easier to just "get it out" than worry, so here goes nothing.
Last month I bought a bra from Victoria's Secret.
I know. Me. The ethical fashion blogger who vowed to give up fast fashion well over a year ago. I caved. I failed. I buckled under the pressure and chose convenience over ethics.
Or at least that's genuinely how I felt about the whole scenario.
In my experience, bras have been THE hardest thing to shop for. Ethically, and just in general. After the past four years of being pregnant or breastfeeding, my boobs have gone through the ringer (sorry for those who weren't expecting an anatomy lesson, but the title should have warned you ;) and I've had the hardest time finding a "real" non-bralette, underwire, padded, big girl bra from an ethical retailer that fits and does its job.
I've shopped around online, I've asked for recommendations, I've spent money on bras that don't really fit my body to support brands I (still) believe in.
But eventually, I just needed a good bra and when my hubby offered to give me some alone time to shop for one during one of our trips, I couldn't say no.
I walked into VS and tried on one or two bras. I knew exactly the size I needed. I found a one that fit. And I wear it all the time.
I tend to think in big, all encompassing terms in most areas of my life. Right and wrong, black and white. So, to me, when I gave up fast fashion, I meant it. I haven't bought a "fast fashion" piece of clothing since the day I quit it last April — until said Victoria's Secret incident, of course.
But here's the thing.
The deeper I dive into ethical fashion and the community that has been build around it. I've realized that it's a community of real people. With real money and real struggles and real habits and real convictions, whether we choose to show the not-perfect moments or not. The world we live in makes ethical shopping difficult and sometimes, the standards that exist are less black and white and more a mixture of grey, as hard as that may be for me to wrap my head around at times.
I don't think that applies to every area of life, but for shopping and trying to live a more conscious lifestyle I think it rings true.
You see, I say over and over that this conscious living thing is a journey. And the very word implies that there will be ups and downs, hard choices and easy ones. I'm not writing this all out to justify shopping at VS or make myself feel less guilty (because, you guys, I literally felt guilty about it.) This isn't really even about the bra at all.
Instead, I'm hoping that this will be more of an encouragement to those of you who find slow fashion really, really hard.
Give yourself some grace. Take it one step (one purchase, one shopping cart, one bra) at a time and although your purchases carry great value and you should truly vote with your dollars, I don't think I need to turn in my FFA (Fast Fashion Anonymous, duh) tokens anytime soon.
And neither do you. Make the best decisions you can with the resources you have and, if you've exhausted your options and find a gap you can't seem to fill, don't beat yourself up. Small steps make a difference, my friends, and I look forward to the day I can find an ethical bra that fits. Until then, my VS one will do the trick.
If you've had luck bra shopping, please let me know your favorite retailers! The ones I've tried and admire are all listed on The List and on my affordable ethical retailers list. I hope to follow this post up with an extensive guide to shopping ethically for lingerie (since it's been one of the larger gaps I've found in the industry) so let me know your responses and suggestions!