Feminism sells and brands know it

With the world in the state that it’s in right now, it’s not surprising that people are craving positive change. In the past year the power of prejudice has made itself even more clear. And while it’s pretty bloody terrifying, it’s made the world notice how important it is to continue talking about injustice when we see it. I feel like a lot of us have become more vocal about our beliefs and recognized that the “sweep it under the rug so as not to offend people” technique doesn’t get us very far.

We’re all wearing our metaphorical activist badges with pride.

Don’t get me wrong, this is what I like to see. I do a little happy dance every time someone is unapologetic in trying to make the world a better place. As far as I’m concerned, you should be shouting “I’m an intersectional feminist!”, “Black lives matter!” and “We need change!” from the rooftops. Which is why, when I noticed that activism was making its way onto the highstreet fashion scene, I was initially pretty excited about it. H&M and Topshop are both stocking T-shirts with the word “feminist” boldly written across them. And you’d be pretty hard pushed to find any high street shop that isn’t selling something that says “girl gang” on it or is marketed as being about “girl power”. My first instinct was to applaud such shops for making a statement; for possibly alienating potential customers in favour of doing what was right. My second, slightly delayed instinct was to question whether the companies that are pushing these kinds of products are actually feminist or have just realized that activism is “big right now”.

Has feminism become trendy? Has it morphed from something that takes sacrifice and persistence for the greater good into something that can be bought for a mere £8.99 and then chucked into a landfill when it becomes uncool again?

The truth is, that no matter what their adverts are trying to tell you through showing women with muscles and body hair and a general air of badass-ness, most of these companies are not about “girl power”. If you’ve watched The True Cost, you know what I’m talking about. Whilst shops may be trying to convince you that you’re an empowered woman supported by an equally empowered brand, they continue to perpetrate the mistreatment of women in the East. H&M are said to have fired 251 workers due to pregnancy in Cambodia and India and it is reported that 8,000 workers have collapsed in their factories due to heat and exhaustion between 2010 and 2016 in Cambodia alone. Topshop have been linked to the use of sweatshops that pay their workers 44p per hour. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound very “feminist” to me. It sounds more like they've noticed what sells and jumped on board.

If you want a t-shirt that declares your feminism to the world, then put your money towards a business that actually supports women. All women. Don’t buy from companies that care more about their profit than fair trading because, as far as they’re concerned, our money is where our power lies.  

This is the definition of “white feminism”. It’s the continuing mistreatment of women who aren’t white under the guise of “girl power”. It’s people posting Instagram selfies of their empowering slogan t-shirt that could have been made by a woman who puts her life at risk on a daily basis so that she can feed her family. 


  1. Such a great post. I was so shocked when I saw The True Cost about a year and a half ago. Although I am still guilty of buying from these shops -- Zara etc -- I do tend to buy much less than I did before. By the way, the boob t-shirt you're wearing in that picture? Amazing!

    1. Thank you, lovely! It's all about making those small steps, well done you! xx

  2. This post really made an awareness that people should be considerate and wise enough of their consumer behavior. I, for one, do my own research before purchasing something especially that money is hard-earned and I don't want it to go to waste. :)

    Augustin Ra / Indie Spirit

  3. I was nodding along so hard to this post my neck aches. It's so hard for me to see t-shirts being sold in places like H&M and Primark knowing that the woman (because there's an 80-90% chance it was a woman) who sewed the garment together is suffering. People think that brands are becoming aware of real life issues but it's almost always a publicity stunt - basically a scam. Great post!