Synopses & Reviews
I was made in America. My "Jingle These" Christmas boxers were Made in Bangladesh.
I had an all-American childhood in rural Ohio. My all-American blue jeans were Made in Cambodia.
I wore flip-flops every day for a year when I worked as a SCUBA diving instructor in Key West. They were Made in China.
One day, while staring at a pile of clothes on the floor, I noticed the tag of my favorite T-shirt: Made in Honduras.
I read the tag. My mind wandered. A quest was born.
Where am I Wearing?will trace the author's journey from Honduras, to Bangladesh, to Cambodia, to China, and back again to discover the origins of his favorite clothes, including his flip-flops, jeans, boxers, t-shirt, and basketball shorts. It intimately describes the connection between the garment workers' standards of living and the all-American luxury of our own lifestyle. It will be a personal look at globalization and outsourcing. It will answer the questions, "How are the lives of foreign workers affected?", "Why are these workers so poor?", and "How guilty should we feel?"
Where am I Wearing?will bridge the gap between global producers and consumers by introducing readers to the human elements of globalization -- names, personalities, hopes, and dreams -- with the economic and political elements serving as a backdrop. Whether it is bowling a few frames with workers in Cambodia, riding a roller coaster with workers in Bangladesh, or simply dining on their floor during a power outage, the book will put a face on the impersonal force of globalization. It will show readers why they should care about the workers who make their clothes.
Globalization makes it difficult to know where the things you buy come from. Journalist and travel writer Kelsey Timmerman wanted to know where his clothes came from and who made them, so he traveled from Honduras to Bangladesh to Cambodia to China and back. Along the way, he met the people who made his favorite clothes and learned as much about them as he did about globalization itself. Enlightening and controversial at once, this book puts a human face on globalization.
A journalist travels to Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Honduras, and back to the U.S. to trace the origins of our clothes
Globalization makes it difficult for anyone to know very much about the origin of the products they buy. When journalist and traveler Kelsey Timmerman wanted to know where his clothes came from and who made them, he began a journey that would take him from Honduras to Bangladesh to Cambodia to China and back again. On the way, he discovered as much about people as he did about clothes and globalization. Bouncing between two worlds--that of impoverished garment workers and his own luxurious Western lifestyle--he puts a personal face on the controversial issues of globalization and outsourcing. Whether bowling with workers in Cambodia or riding a roller coaster with workers in Bangladesh, Timmerman bridges the gap between impersonal economic forces and the people most directly affected by them.
Kelsey Timmerman (Muncie, IN) is a freelance journalist who travels regularly and maintains a travel blog called Where Am I Wearing? His writing has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor and the Indianapolis Star, among other publications.
Ninety-seven percent of our clothes are made overseas. Yet globalization makes it difficult to know much about the origin of the products we buybeyond the standard "Made in" label. So journalist and blogger Kelsey Timmerman decided to visit each of the countries and factories where his five favorite items of clothing were made and meet the workers. He knew the basics of globalized laborthe forces, processes, economics, and politics at work. But what was lost among all those facts and numbers was an understanding of the lives, personalities, hopes, and dreams of the people who made his clothes.
In Bangladesh, he went undercover as an under-wear buyer, witnessed the child labor industry in action, and spent the day with a single mother who was forced to send her eldest son to Saudi Arabia to help support her family. In Cambodia, he learned the difference between those who wear Levi's and those who make them. In China, he saw the costs of globalization and the dark side of the Chinese economic miracle.
Bouncing between two very different worldsthat of impoverished garment workers and his own Western lifestyleTimmerman puts a personal face on the controversial issues of globalization and outsourcing. Whether bowling with workers in Cambodia or riding a roller coaster with laborers in Bangladesh, he bridges the gap between impersonal economic forces and the people most directly affected by them. For anyone who wants to truly understand the real issues and the human costs of globalization, Where Am I Wearing? is an indispensable and unforgettable journey.
From the Preface:
I was made in America. My "Jingle These" Christmas boxers were MADE IN BANGLADESH.
I had an all-American childhood in rural Ohio. My all-American blue jeans were MADE IN CAMBODIA.
I wore flip-flops every day for a year when I worked as a SCUBA diving instructor in Key West. They were MADE IN CHINA.
One day while staring at a pile of clothes on the floor, I noticed the tag of my favorite T-shirt: MADE IN HONDURAS.
I read the tag. My mind wandered.
A quest was born.
"Timmerman is a fun tour guide, rather than a stern moralizer. His quest to find community around the world is an inspiration to anyone beginning to ask what's been lost in the new global economy."
—John Bowe, author of Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy
"It's one thing to talk about our disastrous trade policy.It's quite another to live with the consequences. Kelsey Timmerman takes us to sweatshops and shantytowns to meet the people—mostly very young and grossly underpaid—who make our clothes. Every Washington policymaker should come down from their ivory towers and read Where Am I Wearing?"
—U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
About the Author
Kelsey Timmerman is a freelance journalist whose writing has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor and has aired on NPR. He maintains a blog at www.whereamiwearing.com. He lives with his wife, Annie, in Indiana.
Table of Contents
Prologue: We Have It Made xiii
Part I The Mission
Chapter 1 A Consumer Goes Global 3
Chapter 2 Tattoo's Tropical Paradise 13
Chapter 3 Fake Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Anti-Sweatshop Protestors 17
Part II My Underwear: Made in Bangladesh
Chapter 4 Jingle These 23
Chapter 5 Undercover in the Underwear Biz 33
Chapter 6 Bangladesh Amusement Park 39
Chapter 7 Inside My First Sweatshop 45
Chapter 8 Child Labor in Action 53
Chapter 9 Arifa, the Garment Worker 59
Chapter 10 Hope 69
Chapter 11 No Black and White, Only Green 75
Part III My Pants: Made in Cambodia
Chapter 12 Labor Day 85
Chapter 13 Year Zero 91
Chapter 14 Those Who Wear Levi's 99
Chapter 15 Those Who Make Levi's 107
Chapter 16 Progress 133
Chapter 17 Treasure and Trash 143
Part IV My Flip-Flops: Made in China
Chapter 18 PO'ed VP 151
Chapter 19 Margaritaville 161
Chapter 20 Life at the Bottom 163
Chapter 21 Growing Pains 175
Chapter 22 The Real China 187
Chapter 23 On a Budget 197
Chapter 24 An All-American Chinese Wal-Mart 203
Chapter 25 The Chinese Fantasy 211
Part V My Shorts: Made in the USA
Chapter 26 For Richer, for Poorer 219
Chapter 27 Untold Stories 233
Appendix Where Are You Wearing? The Inexact Science of Finding Out Where Your
Clothes Were Produced 245