As many of you aware, February 22 is Pink Shirt Day in Canada. On this day, people are encouraged to wear pink shirts to practice kindness and take a stand against bullying in schools, workplaces and in the community. This day was started in Nova Scotia after a boy in grade 9 was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. Of course, I wholeheartedly support this day! I have worn pink shirts on this day over the past several years and encouraged my children to do the same. Support grows every year and this year I saw billboards around the city, and local organizations collected funds for Pink Shirt Day, including the ladies’ night at my church last night!! It is awesome! However, I have a serious concern with movements like Pink Shirt Day and other social justice events like the A21 Walk for Freedom. My concern is this: how many people participating in those events with good intentions and in good faith are wearing fast fashion? Because it seems to me that is both pretty likely and pretty ironic in the very saddest way.
You can purchase official Pink Shirt Day shirts from their website…
I was utterly relieved to discover that they are ethically made by Gildan. But I didn’t see any of these official pink shirts at my school. I saw people sporting anti-bullying pink shirts mainly from The Children’s Place which is a known fast fashion manufacturer. The only info about the manufacturing I could find online was that their anti-bullying shirts are “imported” – which usually means fast fashion because when it isn’t fast fashion, companies shout it from the roof tops.
The school I work at most (which is full of wonderful hard-working staff whom I appreciate so much) organized a group order for shirts for Pink Shirt Day. I was too afraid to ask if they could verify whether said shirts were ethically made, so I just didn’t order one.
As for me and my family, we did NOT wear fast fashion on Pink Shirt Day. My daughter wore a Roots Canada pink shirt which is ethically made, my oldest son wore a thrifted pink long sleeve shirt inside out so the graphic didn’t distract from the message (his own initiative!!), and my youngest son wore a thrifted anti-bullying Pink Day shirt! And I had no problems finding a secondhand pink shirt – many thrift shops such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army Thrift Shop and Hope Missions Bargain Shoppe sort their racks by colour so it’s easy to go in and quickly find what you’re looking for.
I encourage everyone to be social justice warriors! Participate in all the walks, support all the movements, do your part to end slavery and bullying, and bring kindness to your community on a local and global level. BUT, while you’re doing all that, stop and think, “Who made my clothes?” and make sure you’re truly part of the solution and not part of the problem.