Do you feel guilty when you sit down for a pedicure? Because Anna does, and she related to what this week's New York Magazine terms the "master slave" paradigm inherent in the "Economy of Touch," and I'm here to tell you that's silly. Millions of people in this world actually are our de facto slaves, and if you've ever bought anything at Victoria's Secret you'll be interested to know how it's treating its workers in Jordan:
All overtime is mandatory, and workers are routinely at the factory 98 to 105 hours a week while toiling 89 to 96 hours. Workers who fall behind on their production goals, or who make even a minor error, can be slapped and beaten. Despite being forced to work five or more overtime hours a day, the workers are routinely shortchanged on their legal overtime pay, being cheated of up to $18.48 each week in wages due them. While this might not seem like a great deal of money, to these poor workers it is the equivalent of losing three regular days' wages each week. Workers are allowed just 3.3 minutes to sew each $14 Victoria's Secret women's bikini, for which they are paid four cents. The workers' wages amount to less than 3/10ths of one percent of the $14 retail price of the Victoria's Secret bikini.
What's the moral of the story here? Where you have control, exercise it. If $7 feels outrageously low-priced for a manicure, it is; tip another $7. Because you can. And where you can't...well, I've heard about this place that makes really cute bras and underwear and all their factory workers get good benefits and earn a living wage and while their advertising is hypersexual, it's not much worse than the average Victoria's Secret catalogs, it's just different because the models aren't paid three million Euros just to show up and perpetuate unattainable standards of beauty, they're paid $50 and a few lines to show up and show some sort of hipster approximation of those standards, which won't get them far, but at least they can go back to beauty school and make an honest wage working at a salon, as long as people like you are around to tip them. Or if you really feel ambitious, you can write Limited Brands CEO and billionaire Les Wexner, and ask him to do something, but like, trust us; he's actually literally too busy counting his money, or consulting with his accountants and shareholders and board members about how to make it "grow" or whatever. Oh yes, and apparently giving some of it to Paris Hilton.
Victoria's Secret, Slave Labor And So-Called "Free Trade" [Huffington Post]
An Inside Look At The Spa Industry [New York Magazine]