A Crafts Community For Craft Ideas & DIY Projects - Craftster.org
Help | About | Contact | Press | Advertise | Cookie Policy | Terms | Site Map
Welcome, Guest.
Please login or register.
Random Tip: You can get cheap (and legal! Wink) advertising by donating a challenge prize! Go here for more info.
Total Members: 306,055
Currently Running With Scissors:
369 Guests and 14 Users
Home Craftster Community Crafting Articles Craft Tutorials My Craftster Crafting Calendar City Guides Craft Shop


Pages: [1]
Jump to page:
  Show Images Only     Send this topic  |  Print  |  Bookmark  
Topic: The Ethics of Beauty?  (Read 3506 times)
Tags for this thread:  Add new tag
Share the love... Pin it Submit to reddit add to Wists
1+
 
happify
« on: February 06, 2005 01:00:46 PM »

I'm wondering how other crafty/beauty-loving people deal with ethical dilemmas in crafting.  What is allowed in the name of beauty?  What is prohibited?  What are our responsibilities as members of an extremely privileged/well off portion of the world's population? 

I am a believer that beauty is one of the highest forms of good/truth, yet I have trouble defining my ethics of beauty, especially since, as a citizen of the U.S., my choices will disproportionately affect the world and its people.  For example, if I am making a quilt, can I buy fabric new?  If so, should I refuse to purchase from large corporations?  How much do I need to know about the productions/manufacturing standards of the fabric company?  What about the environmental effects of dyes used?  How about prints on non-organic cottons?  What about the effects of those pesticides on surrounding populations?  How about shipping costs?  And what about using prints that exoticize people or forward gender stereotypes, even if I am using them ironically?  If I'm not using new fabrics, what are the limits allowable for finding vintage or used ones?  Should I avoid Savers/Value Village since they do not fairly pay their charity where I am?  Should I avoid eBay and shipping goods over long distances?  Can I use former clothing?  What about the waste from the odd shapes that I cannot use?  And, ultimately, what if I cannot find used/vintage fabrics that will result in a beautiful quilt?  Can I then use new fabrics?  Additionally, If I let the company know that their consumers are concerned with environmental and ethical issues, then can I buy from them?  Do I need check up on the benefits of the workers at, say, Joann Fabrics and Savers?  How about their hiring practices?  And their recycling records? 

And that's just an example; what about other crafts, such as photography, where we may be purposely exposing ourselves to toxins -- do we then turn down cancer treatment in the future?  Or beading -- do we pay more for Japanese beads since the workers have the highest standard of living, or do we support the people in developing nations such as the Czech Republic?  Do we avoid any bleached paper? 

So how much weight do we give beauty?  Do we add any for utilitarian beauty?  At what point are we acting irresponsibly?

I really am looking forward to a discussion with other craftsters who have grappled with these issues!
THIS ROCKS   Logged
mikan
Offline Offline

Posts: 464
Joined: 29-Sep-2004
we are ugly but we have the music


View Profile
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2005 08:16:07 PM »

i'm one too who thinks of these things... new/old, local/shipped, worker's rights, the chemicals of our materials...
i buy organic food and organic fabrics and yarns, but have bought other things too.  I used to be way better at thrift store and using what i have, but where i live now isn't really helpful for that as there aren't recycle stores and i don't have much of my own posessions to re-use.  I have some fabrics and yarn that people have given me from their own failed plans so that's pretty cool.  I think the general idea of using what already exists instead of creating something new can be a guideline most people can work with if we try. 

i think no matter what you buy it is a great idea to write to manufacturers and ask them about their practices and share what you think are basic ethical standards for companies. most companies just think people don't care so why bother with the costs to change? 

my boyfriend's father used to calm his family down when they would get all worked up about the ills of the world by getting them to think about what each person's sphere of influence is and working within that and continuing to expand that.  most of us have a sphere of influence that includes friends and families, the places we shop, the places we work, the schools we go to, the organizations we volunteer for, etc.  when you think about it, we have alot of influence even if some things seem crazily out of hand. 

i too am interested in aesthetics and arts as an expression of our highest selves and am dissapointed that so much of our expressions are damaging in ways we do or don't understand.  it's interesting living in japan where so much of society is concerned with appearance (more so than my last home) and yet that doesn't necessarily create a higher aesthetic as i would think.  people are still worried about who has the newest, most expensive, and honestly mundane item more than the origin and future use of that item.  i like to think that many of the things i can create, such as a quilt, will become family or friends treasures for many years or even generations and will thus preclude the buying of something new thus subverting the consumer cycle for many years. 

shipping is an interesting point, i suppose it depends alot on where you live both for access to materials and for the resources involved in getting those materials to you...  honestly i don't know which is actually better- buying from a store that already shipped it for you or doing your own orders from a better source?

as for the department craft stores... i could go on and on, but i won't too much. i don't really like the way they have 'dumbed down' in the past 10 years to become bigger and yet less creative and with flakier materials.  Treatment and pay of the workers is huge too.  the joanne's in my old town would understaff the store on purpose so that people would buy more while they were waiting around. I know this is a policy at home depot too.  It's so sad because customers get mad and workers feel so pressured and then the turnover is high and the cycle continues.  I would rather buy new fabrics from the expensive quilt shops in my town where at least the person who owns the store is the one working in it and can make their own creative decisions about what to order and display and offer to customers... 

phew.
well there is much more to be said and much more to do so i'm looking forward to hearing about what happens with this thread.  i have a few big ideas in the works on these ideas too (offering some major alternatives to current DIY) but that'll have to wait...
THIS ROCKS   Logged

now, whether in punishment or reward, through all eternity, she must love and believe in what she did not understand.  -dennison
Elwood
Offline Offline

Posts: 303
Joined: 29-Mar-2004

I am the Llama Queen!


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2005 01:43:43 PM »

I'm too have been analyzing my craft conscience.  I'm on a tight budget (and it's not fun).  It's hard not to go into Wal-Mart and grab discount fabric for $2.  I have never seen organic fabrics in my city.  I don't like using strong glues, but I do.  I guess I have soothed myself by thinking that at least I don't waste.  Somehow that's not working so well though anymore. 

I am looking forward to other thoughts as well.  Thanks for bringing it up.
THIS ROCKS   Logged
midnightsky1686
Midnightsky Fibers
Offline Offline

Posts: 911
Joined: 25-Aug-2004


View Profile WWW
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2005 02:13:32 PM »

Ethics is what prompted me to start my own business.

I dont know if i would use the word beauty to mean truth since beauty is soley in the eyes of the individual.  I beleive in using micropolitical action (like spheres of influence) to make a change in the larger world.  While i do use supplies for crafting that might be bad for the environment, I try to minimize the impact.  Ie, i use vegetarian and environmentally friendly dyes and mordants in my yarns and try to support smaller businesses.

To me, environmental policy goes hand in hand with social, economic, and political values.  To make a long story short, its the choice we make that effect the world, no matter what the impact.  even just using or trying to do one thing different in your life makes a difference. 

Instead of feeling guilty, use that to chance.  Choose to chance one thing you do every day/week- eat somethign organic, buy something envirnomentally friendly for crafting, etc.  Remember, its all about what *you* choose to do, not what people tell you is right- mass consumerism fuels the greed that society uses to pressure the individual into needing *stuff*- which while its not *bad* to want stuff, you can control that want by supporting your values.  (yes you may get *less quantity* but it is often better made, better for you, and MUCH better for the world)

And before i go into a totally miss-typed rant, ill end Smiley, or it will be pages since i could go on forever.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

Midnightsky Fibers
Naturally Dyed Textiles
Blog
Yarns and Fibers Handmade in the Pacific NW
antikathy
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2005 07:29:18 PM »

Oh, gimmee a break.

Do you expect to change the world through crafting?

Accept your privileged status in the world, be grateful for it, don't ever, ever take it for granted, act as responsibily as you can. But don't do this liberal guilt thing. It's such a waste of brain cells. If you really want to change the world in any significant kind of way, sell everything you own and move to Africa to work in refugee camps (yes, and some people actually do that.) But don't sit around wringing your hands about whether to buy bleached or unbleached cotton.

Yes, crafting is pretty frivolous in the larger scheme of things, but we do it because we enjoy it, it relaxes us, motivates and energizes us, and thus is good for our health. What is good for our health makes us more productive citizens, and therefore is better for society. The same argument would go for pet ownership, another Western middle-class indulgence that is often criticized. Don't beat yourself up for being good to yourself.
THIS ROCKS   Logged
happify
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2005 08:02:36 PM »

I guess in my personal ethics, if one person can make a difference, then one action can make a difference, and therefore I need to consider these individual actions.  Like Mikan and Midnightsky said, it's considering our individual spheres of influence and seeing how we can work within them.

I am not sure what a "liberal guilt thing" is.  I think guilt can be a powerful motivating factor and is a beneficial emotion, provided it doesn't lead to paralysis.  It's when people feel guilty AND powerless (e.g., "I can't change the world through crafting" or "I need to change the entire world through crafting") that they give up trying at all.  I'd love to hear what Antikathy does personally to avoid the liberal guilt thing while still retaining an active conscience.

Personally I don't believe that crafting is frivolous anymore than any other pursuit but just because it is meaningful and important to those of us who participate doesn't mean that it is without negative consequences.  As a privileged world citizen, it's my responsibility to "analyze my craft conscience" as Elwood said, to find out what's coming from where, and if anyone's being hurt to get it, and use my influence to change that as much as possible.  At the very least I try to think about and pray for the workers who allow my crafting to happen.  On my best days, I do more. 

So, people, what are your different levels of choices?  Where do you draw the line?  Do you move to Africa to work in the refugee camps, work with African refugees resettling in your own communities, try to change political structures that have led to people in Africa fleeing their homes, or look at local connections to the factors pushing people from their homes (allegorically)? 
THIS ROCKS   Logged
midnightsky1686
Midnightsky Fibers
Offline Offline

Posts: 911
Joined: 25-Aug-2004


View Profile WWW
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2005 09:50:57 PM »


Do you expect to change the world through crafting?

If you really want to change the world in any significant kind of way, sell everything you own and move to Africa to work in refugee camps (yes, and some people actually do that.) But don't sit around wringing your hands about whether to buy bleached or unbleached cotton.


ill refrain from quoting authors on mocropolitcs, but thats really where its at Smiley, but I don't believe that the middle *or upper* class should just accept the way we are (well if you are a capitalist you may not agree) and/or how we got there.  I think guilt is silly- ie you feel you *have* to do something because you are rich, etc.  You should want to be who you are (or be crafty, w/e) because thats how you want to live your life- don't feel guilty, but do help if that's what you feel is right (not because you think it's an obligation)  [ie if you couldn't give a sh*t about the environment I don't think you should feel the obligation to recycle.  I'd hope you would care for the environment, but you shouldn't do something because of guilt).

yes i do- it's called micropolitical action.  the individual can make a difference.  steps (even only one) can make a difference.  Even one thing makes a difference, you don't have to go all the way. 

Same applies on the other side:  If you normally live an (and I use the term liberally here) *ethical*/low imapct (on env/w/e) lifestyle you shouldn't feel bad for splurging and buying something you normally wouldn't. 


I am not sure what a "liberal guilt thing" is. I think guilt can be a powerful motivating factor and is a beneficial emotion, provided it doesn't lead to paralysis. It's when people feel guilty AND powerless (e.g., "I can't change the world through crafting" or "I need to change the entire world through crafting") that they give up trying at all. I'd love to hear what Antikathy does personally to avoid the liberal guilt thing while still retaining an active conscience.

So, people, what are your different levels of choices? Where do you draw the line? Do you move to Africa to work in the refugee camps, work with African refugees resettling in your own communities, try to change political structures that have led to people in Africa fleeing their homes, or look at local connections to the factors pushing people from their homes (allegorically)?
I'm not really sure what moving to Africa would accomplish (i'll assume some acrcasm is present...)- if that's what a person wants to do fine, but there are other ways to change the world around you. (well said happify!)


Personally, I have a lot of lines. They are based off of humynecology/microplitical/feminist/liberal style ideals.
For crafting (since to deal with food and clothes might open the floddgate of ethics here) I tend to follow:
1.) buy from my lys when I can if i buy commercial yarn/books.  My nexy best bet is ebay.
2.) I look for products that appeal to one of my concerns (ie environemnt, workers rights, animal rights, etc)- I don't worry about meeting all three, though that's always a bonus. 
3.) Recycle when possible using found or thrifted goods. Lots of my materials come from thrift stores
4.) allow myself to splurge occasionally (after all where would the fun in life be) as long as i balance it out a bit.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

Midnightsky Fibers
Naturally Dyed Textiles
Blog
Yarns and Fibers Handmade in the Pacific NW
mikan
Offline Offline

Posts: 464
Joined: 29-Sep-2004
we are ugly but we have the music


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2005 04:38:29 PM »

i have yet to live in a 'third world' country, although i have twice in the last 5 years given away almost everything i own and lived and worked in 'second world' countries and i have found my abilitiy and motivation to be creative to be a strength wherever i live.  beauty is not certainly not the sole property of developed nations, but it is how we go about creating that beauty that seems to be the discussion. 
i do think one privilage of people living in developed nations is access to the resources to become a 'world citizen' as happify mentions, and this sense of self as part of something bigger naturally leads to more concern for our actions, crafting or otherwise.  i do think that people who think their actions don't make a difference or only have an effect if that action is somehow extensive or dramatic are just kidding themselves.  it is true there are billions of people on earth, but we all are busy doing something and influencing each other.  back to micropolitics i guess.

i do have an idea for those who end up buying at walmart or other choices that they might not be proud of, which we all make sometimes...  how about writing a letter everytime to you buy something from a company to that company telling them how you wish they would change/what you wish they would carry/ how they should treat their employees, etc...  obviously many people do things to keep their daily life going that they might want to do better, but those companies we support won't change unless we ask.  plus, maybe thinking you have to go home and spend the time to write a letter for that cheap fabric or material will make you think twice about if you really need it or not or if you could find something else to use  Smiley

i guess it is a matter of what you think is possible in the world and then going for it, which is a lot like creating beauty so i think crafty people are in a pefect position to keep on using our creativity for the good of ourselves and others.  crafting seems to be about what is possible with a limited amount of materials, pretty similar to our existence as humans...
THIS ROCKS   Logged

now, whether in punishment or reward, through all eternity, she must love and believe in what she did not understand.  -dennison
knitster88
aka christinanne
Offline Offline

Posts: 724
Joined: 23-Oct-2004

ch-ch-ch-ch-ch cherry bomb


View Profile
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2005 04:10:28 PM »

i just found this post and feel like its worth entering in my two cents and beliefs on this topic. oh and sorry if my breaking up of my post into paragraphs doesnt make sence, im just trying to break it up.

one of my big concerns is the "big bad corporationg". Not caring about the area around your factory, paying your workers enough to stagnate in poverty, and the way that theyve formed our lives, and the way we do things. for example, how often do you and your friends go our and just go for a walk, or a hike? i try but the fact is that if you have money its alot easier to just go out to the mall and buy panties.

 i love panties. but do you know what i love even more than panties, is sewing them. so lets say that i set out to make me some panties. first i go to the fabric store, joanns, hancock, something along that line, and search for the fabric for my new panties. (this step infuriates me, just because my towns fabric stores have miles of quilting fabric and not alot of good clothing fabric, not that i dotn like my cotton print skirts, but id like more...i dunno heavy duty clothing material) i pick up a nice black cotton. the cotton was probably grown using pesticides that seeped into the ground water, theres a great chance that the black dye isnt that good for my skin, and theres an even better chance that the place where the fabric was woven was a sweat shop. even when I try to get away to get away from the mall im left shopping for an equally "evil" product. 

why the poeple who start these businesses even consider the practices most of them use as a way to make money makes me sick. i could not make my money knowing that someone else is suffering for it. but thats what these guys do, and for persons like me who dont exactly live in a big town (grand forks north dakota is my home) were left looking to the internet to support our hobby and love of the planet.  so im not even given the option of supporting a local business. not that there arent great companies on the internet, but id love to recycle money back into my community, the community that supports my families business.

so i guess what im saying in this extremely long paragraph is im sad. sad that even if you try and get away from the corporations youre often drug in, just in a more sneeky way. 
THIS ROCKS   Logged

Look what youve done to me now, youve made me perfect
midnightsky1686
Midnightsky Fibers
Offline Offline

Posts: 911
Joined: 25-Aug-2004


View Profile WWW
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2005 05:29:34 PM »

Yep, it's hard to not support local businesses.  At least when you make your clothers you are taking out one step that is bad (at least) which is better than nothing.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

Midnightsky Fibers
Naturally Dyed Textiles
Blog
Yarns and Fibers Handmade in the Pacific NW
Threads you might like:
Pages: [1] Jump to page:
  Send this topic  |  Print  |  Bookmark  
 
Jump to:  



FacebookTwitterPinterest
only results with images
include swap threads
advanced search



Latest Blog Articles
@Home This Weekend: Stenciled Table
Tute Tuesday: Mrs. Weasley Inspired Burrow Afghan
Creative Craft Supplies

Comparison Shopping




Support Craftster
Become a
Friend of Craftster

Buy Craftster Swag
Buy Craft Supplies
Comparison Shopping

Craftster heartily thanks the following peeps...
Moderators

Follow Craftster...






Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
SimplePortal 2.3.5 © 2008-2012, SimplePortal
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!

Copyright ©2003-2016, Craftster.org an Internet Brands company.