The Kardashians accused of supporting sweatshops, I come to their defense

kardashian-sweat-shop-postStar magazine reports (if that’s what you want to call what they do) that the clothing lines of Kourtney, Khloe, Kris, and Kim Kardashian are made in sweatshops in China!

Gasp! Oh, the horror!

And they seem like such fine well-grounded young women who would think less of themselves and more about issues such as global labor rights, don’t they?

Last month I watched my first and only episode of Kourtney & Kim Take New York — the latest version of their reality show. It was awful and of course I watched the entire thing – every petty fight, every naked yoga session, every marriage disintegrating in less than one NBA off-season. It was the mental equivalent of eating donuts for an hour, in that it was light, fluffy, and it took an hour off my lifespan.

So, I’m not one to jump to the defense of the Kardashians. But when you really look at these reports, the Karashian’s aren’t the one’s being challenged, manufacturing in China is.

In bed with bad people

Charles Kerneghan, the guy who made Kathie Lee cry on TV after revealing that her products were made by children, had this to say about the allegations:

“The Kardashians are in bed with some pretty bad people. Not only are celebrities like the Kardashians taking advantage of these workers, they are holding hands with a government that spits on democracy and women’s rights.”

Kerneghan told TMZ that he had never been to the factory that makes the Kardashian line, but that he had been investigating factories in China for years and he’s comfortable assuming the conditions are sweatshop-ish. He also said that STAR ran its story before he could fully investigate.

To recap: Kerneghan knows nothing at all specifically about the Kardashian line and the factory in which it is produced. But he does know China. Star sold a lot of magazine and made headlines on TV shows and in newspapers across the country with a report that says nothing more than that, in general, workers in China aren’t treated the best.

The China Price

The allegations include: workers earning less than $1 per day, having to ask permission to use the bathroom, factories ignoring government set labor laws. (note: nowhere does it say anything about child labor, yet that’s what’s in all of the headlines. Child labor is the sexiest of all the sweatshop allegations.) These are all things that are no surprise to me or anyone else that has any experience with Chinese manufacturing. Factories aren’t inspected by third parties. Workers aren’t educated about their rights. Unions are usually run by the government or the factory. When I was in China I met workers who worked more than 100 hours per week, workers who clocked out and then went back to work, workers who earned way less than $1 per hour.

If the ideal of communism is to create a workers’ paradise, China missed the mark a bit and created a factory owners’ paradise.

Before you get all up and arms about the Kardashians exploiting workers, look where your shoes were made or the computer or phone you are reading this on were made. China, right? Charles Kerneghan would make the same educated assumption about your shoes or computer as he did about the Kardashian line.

The Kardashians claim to know nothing about poor working conditions in the factories that make their clothes. I 100% believe them. It’s tough to know anything about factories in China.

Li Qiang the director of China Labor Watch said that the reality stars are turning a blind eye toward human rights abuses.

Show me a company producing in China or show me a consumer using made in China products and I’ll show you a whole lot of blind eyes.

In the world of blind eyes, we are all bedazzled by the China price.

An says:

I totally agree with you. If people are disappointed in the Kardashians they should look at the shirt on their own backs.

Very true, we are all in it up to our necks. I recently went into a homeware store and could only find two products NOT made in China. Seems a bit opportunistic to have singled out the Kardashians.

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