A charity set up to sent secondhand/unused bras from the US to Uganda is kicking up a storm in the 2.0 world. It began with a piece in the Huffington Post. It prompted this outraged rejoinder. There are many excellent points in the response about imports preventing the local cotton industry from thriving and the overall dumb blonde patronising tone, however, I think there's a false note attached to an alleged stigma in possessing second hand clothes.
Friday, May 21, 2010
There is already a large market for second hand bras in Nigeria. I recall a taxi driver taking a wrong turn on my way in from the airport in Lagos a couple of years ago. We ended up on the Osodi market section of Agege Motor Road. We drove past a few stalls selling used bras with women crowding round etc. I wonder where they came from? Probably from donations from the West turned into trade. I'm sure in many parts of the West, similar markets exist, just as they exist for other forms of second hand clothing. As a poor PhD student over a decade ago, all my t shirts were second hand. I'm sure if I'd had an elder brother, like many I would have ended up with sibling hand me downs.
Second hand clothing is in line with a more general recycling ethic and shouldn't be disparaged. It smacks of Western consumerism and the cult of the new. None of this takes away from the inglorious naivety of the original article and the Kristy and Laura characters featured, nor does it deny that new underwear is always preferable to wearing what was someone else's..