Schoolgirl Issues


A few days ago, I went out with my husband to look for shoes. While he looked, I headed for the kids section to look for a schoolgirl skirt. Just like all normal people, I have a fetish for pleated skirts, especially tartan ones. My personal excuse, if confronted about this, is that as a jew, I am fascinated by all things Catholic. Catholic things have the allure of forbidden fruit. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I couldn’t find a skirt in my size but I did find a dress among the school uniforms, priced right at $7.99. I showed it to my husband who patted me on the head, with either affection or pity or both. I interpreted his gesture as “Awww, you’re nearly sixty and you still like to pretend you’re a schoolgirl!” He told me to go try it on.

The dress was a good fit but when I took it off, I saw to my horror that is was made in Bangladesh. There is no way I’m going to buy a dress made under terrible conditions, maybe even made by someone who perished in the Rana Plaza factory collapse.

I don’t regret my decision to pass on the dress, but now people are scolding me for a position that will only hurt people in Bangladesh who want factory jobs. “Those poor people are grateful to work in sweatshops, bla bla bla!”

Fuck! I can’t indulge in my fetish and I’m increasing poverty in Bangladesh.

Opinions, ridicule, advice, anyone?


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22 Responses to Schoolgirl Issues

  1. Kelly says:

    $7.99 – Was the price from 1974? The $7.99 part scares me.

    My (now retired) therapist grew up in India (missionary kid). Everything she wore was second-hand, never new, but you couldn’t tell. She always looked great in her “reincarnated” clothes. I’ve always admired her for figuring out how to look good and practice the three R’s (reduce, re-use, recycle) at the same time.

  2. Philippa says:

    This a tricky one. I have pondered the same issue myself. I like the idea that I Muhammad Yunis has (google his name + micro finace or Nobel prize if you have never heard of him). Basically he suggests an additional sum is added to each item, say 50c. That money would go directly to a third party (not to the manufacturer to be distrubuted). The third party would manage schools or clinics near the factories. Almost like a govt tax.

    I like this idea, no one loses their jobs if we stop the demand and their children receive education, hopefully enabling them to seek higher paying work in future. They would be able to access health care and perhaps food.

    Nb I had a passion for wraparound. My sisters held an intervention. So I do get your thing for pleats. Good luck with the hunt for the perfect pseudo schoolgirl look.

  3. Philippa says:

    Somehow I typed “I” prior to typing Mohammed. I did not mean to.

    For the record, I am not Mohammed Yunis.

    Thank you said I, Philippa, who likes wraparound and pronouns.

  4. Romeo says:

    Slavery was great for the US economy but it was kind of unsightly. I feel blessed to live in a time when the exploitation that helps make my own pathetic existence affordable takes place where I don’t have to see it.

  5. Bessie the Cow says:

    You can indulge in your fetish; buy American or Canadian, but don’t buy sweatshop stuff. If you want to buy from Bangladesh, buy a hand crafted item or one that has a fair trade label. You can write a letter to the company that exploits third world workers and voice your indignation. And then there’s the Goodwill store. Lots of school girl, tartan like skirts. (Venice and about National or so.)

    Speaking, writing about issues is always, always a good way to keep them in the forefront, so others who like school girl, tartan like skirts will look at the labels too.


  6. Sam says:

    Well put Romeo.

  7. Andra says:

    Well, I had to wear tartan school uniforms, probably pleated skirts involved as well. And so I never wear bottle green, very little green of any hue and no tartan and no pleats.

  8. annemarie says:

    I have opinions AND advise!

    Opinion: you were dead fucking right to not buy that dress.

    Advise: when the idiots tell you that you are now destroying the only means these poor people have to make a living, say:
    “Do you believe that capitalism and the free market will eventually eradicate poverty? Do you also think that capitalism is a “natural” method of organizing society and has always been in existence in some form or other?”

    If they answer yes to either of the above then you’re dealing with complete ignoramuses. Just drop the conversation because there is no cure for their affliction.

    If they answered No, then proceed with following questions:

    “Do you approve of the way global capitalism is destroying rural communities and traditional ways of life in the third world? If you could chose, would you prefer to be a peasant in the countryside living off the land and not working terribly hard (about half the year), or working 60 hr weeks for peanuts in unsafe conditions in the illusion that your children might have a better life because This is Progress?”

    I’m no activist (too lazy) but I’m committed to my own brand of quiet resistance.

    Slightly off topic, though it’s actually not: If you’re in the mood for a novel, I think you would like The Life and Times of Michael K by JM Coetzee.

  9. madam restora says:

    You know sweat shops don’t just exist in Bangladesh right? Let me know when you buy something brand new that isn’t made in China, Sri Lanka, India, Cambodia or Thailand. It’s six of one, half dozen of the other sister.

  10. Romeo says:

    @madam restora:

    This is mainly kid stuff and I don’t know where the fabric comes from but the final products are handmade by a friend of mine in NY:

    I really dig the “Good Morning” bib.

  11. D.R. says:

    What she said. (madam restora)

  12. David Duff says:

    I demand to see a photo of Andra in a tartan, pleated skirt, preferably with white socks, one of which must be down round her ankle, a less than modestly buttoned blouse and licking a lollipop.

    Er, sorry, but I’ve come over all funny and I must go and lie down . . . it’s the heat, you know . . . and my age, of course . . .

  13. ali says:

    I agree with your decision and anyone who supports it.

    Further questions:

    Can I buy flattering basics at American Apparel, or should I continue boycotting AA because of the hideous troll monster that is Dov Charney?

    Further awkwardness- Shutting my mouth around friends who manage American Apparel clothing stores.

    Am I a dickhead? This is a question I’ve asked myself for a few years now. If not- how do I navigate conversation with hardworking retail slave friends?

  14. ali says:

    …AND, hilariously (?):

    Dov Charney Gets Heated About Bangladesh Disaster, Likens It to 9/11

  15. Kellie says:

    American Apparel runs sweatshops in America. They have upped the game!

  16. Dj says:

    I wore uniforms for 12 years, although for seven wore very snappy sailor collar middy blouses! Saddle oxfords, navy blue and white. Haven’t worn navy since (100 years ago..) keep looking sister…go to the nearest catholic thrift store, all you want!!

  17. Moolissa says:

    I will read this thread later because I’ve been thinking about this topic lately. I am an animal lover & would do anything for the animals, but whenit comes to people I’m less compassionate. But then I was thinking about child labor. Ultimately, I believe the system has to collapse before it can be rebuilt, fairly. But I’m falling asleep as I write this…Thank you, Sister Wolf & her intelligent audience. (Any my catholic uniform was brown & white plaid! With a mid-calf length skirt. This was in the 80’s. No cuteness to be found.)

  18. Bevitron says:

    Sister Wolf, I don’t know the answer, but I tend to be on the side of not buying that particular dress.

    Please, PLEASE say that you will still be looking for pleated tartan schoolgirl skirts when you’re 80. (And checking labels, of course.)

  19. Cricket9 says:

    DJ, I wore uniforms too, and they were hideous sateen things in navy; some variants would have a sailor collar. The only good thing about them was, you could wipe your fountain pen (yes, we used fountain pens) on your sleeve and it wouldn’t show. We had to wear a school emblem and number on the uniform sleeve, so any adult caching us doing something “inappropriate” outside school. I.e. kissing, drinking, smoking and other good things would know where to report on us. Really, we didn’t have time or energy to get into bullying each other, we had to be united to escape the constant Big Brother attention. And that’s why I had a great time at my class reunion.

  20. Marky says:

    Do you sew? You totally should.

  21. Kellie says:

    Whats with the goodbye wallpaper?

  22. Kellie says:

    Now i am scared

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