Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Earrings: came with a pair of boots
Scarf: J Crew
Remember when this kitteh disappeared and I thought she was dead? That was sad. But she's back! I thought that warranted a photo op.
Anyway, it's time for another FFB post, this time about social class.
I'm not totally sure if my topic fits under that category, but it's one that's been on my mind since I first stumbled into a Tienda Americana here in Costa Rica. This little dress (which is probably actually a nightshirt, but let's keep that between us, shall we?) came from a tienda americana, which is the equivalent of a thrift store, except different.
See, the americanas here are THE place to get clothes. In my deep and thorough research of Costa Rican malls - and by that I mean the anecdotal evidence I've collected by visiting four malls in different cities at different times - they might as well call them "Centers where you can get stuff for $60 US or more". New clothes are prohibitively expensive here, and this is where the americana comes in.
They sell Goodwill and Salvation Army cast offs at reasonable prices. Sometimes, they're even downright cheap - I managed to snag a neon skirt for about 90 cents. The thing is that this is pretty much THE ONLY place where the average Costa Rican can afford to buy clothes. And there's nothing wrong with that, I mean, I like thrifting. A lot. Probably because I wasn't allowed to as a kid (class issues abound in that statement...). Also, I think thrift stores provide a necessary service.
That said, the fact that a single country can supply another country with clothes from its cast offs raises questions for me. I mean, seriously, the stuff that gets here has already trickled through the system: from the store (new), to the closet (worn), donated to a thrift store in the States, and then donated AGAIN to these stores in Costa Rica. Doesn't that say something about social and economic class at a global level? And in some ways, isn't that just perpetuating some neocolonialist attitudes? (Hi, my name is Frances, I majored in Latin American Studies and then went on to study International Development and I blog about what I wear....)
So here I am, in my tienda americana dress and my fast fashion sweater and my over-priced scarf and rubber shoes (I love you J Crew, but let's be real: your accessories are way over-priced). I'm part of the system, part of the consumption - on both ends, no less - and I don't quite know what to do about that. And I haven't even begun to deal with the can of worms that is the origin of most of these items - in many cases, other Central American countries... In some ways, it's coming full circle.
On a lighter note: I didn't know if I'd like knotting my shirt like it's 1992, but I think I'll do it again.