Behind the picture: Frida Ottesen
Frida Ottesen (25) was a normal Norwegian teenager who liked shopping and clothes. But participating in the TV show Sweatshop changed her life. She now works as a public speaker, sharing her knowledge and creating awareness. “As consumers we are a big part of the problem.”
“As a child I already had a close relationship with nature. My engagement with environmental and social justice issues became especially strong in high school. With other pupils I went on a solidarity trip to Israel and Palestine. There I witnessed injustice for the first time close by. It shocked me and made me want to learn more about life outside Norway.
In 2015 I was one of three teenagers who visited Cambodia for a TV show called Sweatshop. I was very fond of clothes, shopping and fashion. My friends and I would often go to shopping malls and buy clothes. Not because we needed them, but because we wanted them. We never thought about where the clothes came from and who had made them under what conditions and for what kind of wages.
In Cambodia I worked in a sweatshop, lived with textile workers and got to know their everyday lives. It was really life-changing. Back in Norway I asked myself: what can I do about their plight? Since then I often give presentations in schools or at seminars and I am very active on social media. Knowledge and awareness are so important. As consumers we are a big part of the problem. If we keep buying cheap clothes made in sweatshops by modern slaves, then we are basically saying: this is okay.
I am so glad you selected this photo. It really speaks the truth. Seeing the two images, you have to wonder: where does my money go? When you start looking for answers, you will find that the biggest amount of money goes into the pockets of the CEOs of fashion companies. They are among the world's richest men. And they are rich because at the same time other people are starving.
Hopefully this photo can be a catalyst for reflection and awareness. It is a photo of clothing, but the issues it addresses apply to so many other industries. And we have to question ourselves: is this fair, is this what we want the world to look like, is this morally right?
Although sweatshops still exist, I am optimistic about the future. I see so many amazing young people who are very aware of sustainability and ethical issues. There are also many companies making their business more sustainable. I hope more and more people will wake up to see the truth and ask the right questions. In time the old, grumpy capitalist men will disappear and then young people with good values will step forward. That is my hope.”
Image source: pictures are made by Heather Stillwell for 'Sweatshop - Deadly Fashion'. Copyright Hacienda Film AS.