In 1989, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a widely respected feminist and scholar created the term, “intersectionality” as a reference to how feminism is effected by the overlapping social and political agendas in our world. This term has become immersed within the fabric of our collective human experience in a variety of ways.
By definition, the word “intersectional” has a few different interpretations depending on the context, however, they are all connected to the same concept. According to Merriam-Webster, it means:
of or relating to intersectionality
involving members of multiple social categories
existing between sections
of or relating to an intersection
I think it all comes down to taking a holistic approach to absolutely everything in life. Everything and everyone is connected in this world. Without a proper understanding of the evolution of our shared history we cannot rise up and do better. Isn’t that the point? To learn, understand, respect, and agree to do better and be better. That’s how we evolve.
I’ve been thinking a lot about intersectionality in consumerism. It’s been wonderful to witness the emergence of socially responsible brands specifically in the fashion and beauty industries. Consumers now want to know the social impact of their purchases. No longer are we interested fast fashion hauls and cosmetics filled with harsh chemicals cooked up in a lab often responsible for the death of thousands of rabbits. (Why do we test mascara on rabbits, and then kill them?!) It may not be as convenient as quickly stopping by your local mall to grab a few things for the weekend that will be “out of style” and probably falling apart by Monday but I believe practicing mindfulness while shopping is simply better for your soul. I’d rather have 2 pairs of jeans that were ethically made by a garment worker who was treated well and paid fairly then 20 pairs that were mass produced in horrendous working conditions in order to appease an unrealistic fashion calendar. Have you ever noticed that many fast fashion retailers have new merchandise every single day? Most of these products are shipped from overseas. Just think about how taxing that is on our planet, our natural resources, let alone, the human bodies behind the scenes that are being used by a system that doesn’t seem to see them as actual human beings at all.
I know it can seem overwhelming. Where do you shop? Who do you support? For me it always goes back to the same two questions…
Who made this product?
How was this product made and what’s it in?
I suppose that’s three questions but this is a great starting point and trust me, eventually it can spiral into hundreds of questions about the origin of materials, organic farming practices, eco-friendly shipping materials, and so much more which are all incredibly important elements to consider. Yes, I have indeed fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole and there is no looking back.
For me, it is absolutely important that a product is vegan. I can not support the slaughter of innocent animals for their flesh and we certainly do not need any animal byproducts in things like nail polish. Come on now, fish scales for shimmery nails? No. It is also equally important to me that the worker who sewed the garment or prepared cosmetic materials were treated with dignity and respect and were paid a fair wage. This certainly isn’t the last piece of the puzzle but the third factor that I look for when making a purchase is the environmental impact. Synthetic fabrics and harsh dyes pollute our soil and our water. We kinda need those things to live so why our we are polluting our own natural resources?
If a product is made with eco-friendly packaging and its contents were made of sustainable ingredients...awesome! If one of those ingredients contains animal byproducts, then it’s really not awesome after all. This is where it gets tricky and this is why taking a holistic approach is so crucial. This is why we need to look at consumerism, consciously, through an intersectional lens in order to get a true understanding on how everything is absolutely connected. If pollution isn’t piled up in our own backyard, if we aren’t the ones being mistreated in a garment factory, and if it’s not our flesh being torn off our body to make a handbag, then it may very well be difficult to fully grasp. This is why we must keep conversations like this circulating. This is why we must ask questions. This is why we must educate ourselves on what we are spending our money on and what system we might be unknowingly supporting. I don’t think anyone really wants to support slave labor or be known as a cow murderer. I assume most people would be rather upset if they saw someone pour cancer causing chemicals into the ocean. We shouldn’t be okay with paying people to do it for us as we look the other way? The time of willful ignorance has come to an end.
Intersectionality is directed linked to your values in any topic or social category. I want to live in a peaceful world where people love, protect, and celebrate one another, our planet, and all living beings on it. My intersection is filled with compassion, appreciation, and curiosity with a strong desire to defend what is right in every facet of my existence on this earth.
If you absolutely need to purchase new apparel and if you are interested in supporting cruelty free cosmetics I definitely recommend checking out Good On You and the Bunny Free App. This isn’t a sponsored post. I just believe they are excellent resources to utilize if you are interested in discovering more of what you value in your own intersection.