Unseeing – it’s an idea from China Miéville’s book ‘the city & the city’ & it refers to simultaneously seeing something & convincing yourself that you didn’t. The book is about two cities whose people live in intersecting spaces but law prevents them from acknowledging each other – it’s a concept i think about surprisingly often.
A friend told me a great story about a lovely & valued co-worker whose daily purchase of a punnet of blueberries often initiated talk of antioxidants & benefits of healthy eating. Months passed before someone made the comment of what an impressive choice it was, considering her low wage & the expense of the berries – often out of season. Her reply shocked them all. She casually explained that it wasn’t really that expensive because when she went through the self-checkout at the supermarket, she just weighed them as potatoes, so they were costing less than a dollar.
She said “but I couldn’t afford them if I bought them as blueberries – they’re very expensive”
It’s the same with most fashion. Grabbing a bargain used to be a game of strategy but i can find almost anything on sale somewhere – disappointingly, it’s not my years of spotting a bargain that’s paying off – more like finding a needle in a big pile of needles..no more haystacks to get in the way.
Once you acknowledge that you unsee the real cost, it’s hard to not get upset by racks & racks of shit, wear-once fashion that ends up unsellable in our charity stores & then into landfill. Maybe if we had to put those clothes in the bin instead of leaving that task to the charities, it would be more shocking?
Australia & other first world countries have enforced very strict local working conditions so that we maintain a healthy environment for our children to work in but we then buy illogically-cheap items & choose to unsee how they were able to be so cheap. The Bangladeshi tragedy earlier this year was horrific – there was a great article written by Alicia Simmonds, called ‘The role we all played in the Bangladeshi Tragedy’ – these are the conditions we don’t want our adults, let alone our children, to work in.
The woman with the blueberries unsaw that she was stealing because the only important thing was her getting the blueberries. I’m going to a wedding next week & have some decisions to make. Anyone got a size 12 dress I can borrow?