(Slightly late) Small Business Saturday gift guide, and a Boston craft fair list

I’m not a fan of Small Business Saturday‘s corporate sponsorship, but I think the basic idea is sound. For those who can afford to do so, supporting small businesses–especially local ones–is a good way to take part in building a sustainable, humane, community-based economy.

With the usual caveats that 1.) individual consumer choices are not a substitute for political engagement and 2.) spending time together is always a wonderful gift and there should be no obligation to buy anything for anyone, here are a few items I like from small businesses and craftspeople around the internet, some of whom are local to Boston.

1.) “Gigi” burlesque mug – Dupenny –  £13.50
2.) Unicorn Landia nail polish – Starrily at ShanaLogic – $9.99
3.) Collectible narwhal ornament – Magic Bean Buyer at ShanaLogic – $15.99
4.) See you space corgi sticker – Megan Lara at RedBubble – $4.00
5.) Mauve crystal and feather fascinator – I Am Joolienn on Etsy – $25.00 (Note: Joolie is a Somerville local who makes all sorts of pretty, shiny, feathery things.)
6.) Cat life brooch – The Tiny Hobo on Etsy – $10.00 (Note: The Tiny Hobo also makes a ton of fat-pos stuff, which you can find in her main shop, t-shirt shop, and Custom Plus shop.)
7.) Peacock feather journal set – CoupCoup Designs on Etsy – $12.00
8.) Neon rainbow felt necklace – HandiCraftKate on Etsy – $55.00
9.) Signed machines of love poster – DFTBA Records – $15.00
10.) Chocolate Mexicano sampler – Taza Chocolate – $21.00 (Note: Taza is a local company that makes Mexican-style fair-trade chocolate right here in Somerville. They also give tours, which look like fun.)

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Jobs in a shareable society: how do we get paid if no one is buying?

Despite my love of shiny shiny things, I am generally in favor of a society focused less on consumption and more on community. Our current levels of consumption as a society are unsustainable and harmful to both workers and the environment; if you want a good in-depth analysis of these problems and some potential solutions, I highly recommend Annie Leonard’s book The Story of Stuff.

But there’s one thing I keep wondering when I think about transitioning to a less stuff-focused society, and reading this post about planning a shareable wedding helped me put my finger on it.

The author’s wedding, which included contributions from creative friends and lots of DIY, sounds wonderful. I especially like the idea of a make-your-own-mojito station, which I’m totally stealing for future use:

Think about all the things you can make instead of buy. Instead of programs, we painted the day’s agenda on a big smooth piece of wood, propped up on an easel. Instead of a full cocktail bar, Michael made a giant pitcherful of sugar-mint-lime mash the day before, and guests enjoyed the make-your-own-mojito station with instructions and ingredients. And instead of store-bought invitations, we designed and formatted our own, and printed them at a local copy business for under a hundred dollars.

I have no problem with the author, or anyone else, planning their weddings or other events this way (although I would caution anyone considering using “friendors” to think about it carefully and be aware of the risks).  But when I see such stories held up as a model for “how we should do things,” it leaves me wondering: if everyone did it that way, what would happen to all the professional photographers, florists, wedding coordinators, artists, designers, craftspeople, and bakers?

More broadly, if we move toward a model of sharing–that is, replacing paid labor with volunteer work done by friends and family–where does that leave people who make things and provide services for a living?

One potential way around this conundrum is the basic national income, which would free people from having to work to survive. Under such a system, people who want to make art could do so without having to find a way to make money from it, and people who want to volunteer for their friends could do so without losing out on much-needed wages. But even then, there are probably many people who would want to do these types of work. After all, being an accessory maker, photographer, event planner, graphic designer, florist, or maker of tiny wedding cake replicas sound like fulfilling and rewarding jobs–exactly the kind we’d want more of in a new economy.

How do we move away from ubiquitous commercialization, from the constant beating drum of buy-buy-buy, without devaluing creative work?

I know this is a rather theoretical question, as we’re nowhere near a large-scale shift away from consumption. But I care about figuring out social and economic models that would work for as many people as possible.

The complex ethics of fa(t)shion blogging

Fatshion: the intersection of revolution and glitter.

Through another one of Sal’s link round-ups, I found this thoughtful post on the ethics of fashion blogging.

RK makes really good points, but I have some thoughts that complicate the matter–especially when it comes to fatshion.

1.) Fatshion is radical. It’s about taking up space, showing the world that fat women (and men) can have fun with fashion too. That we don’t have to wear muumuus, unless we want to. That we won’t put up with shitty clothing options from major retailers like Lane Bryant. That we don’t believe the right to self-expression should end at a size 14.

Fatshion is about inspiring people never thought they could dress themselves in a fun and creative way. It’s about inspiring people who used to think they were only allowed to wear black, or vertical stripes, or small prints. It’s a way of building community, both in the blog-o-sphere and in physical spaces like plus size boutiques, pop up stores, and clothing swaps.

Fatshion, for many people, contributes to the process of loving their bodies–although there are many other ways to do so, and neither fatshion nor loving your body should be mandatory.

2.) Enjoying compliments on your style is not an inherently bad thing, especially if you’re also complimenting others. Sure, it can get out of hand if it becomes your sole motivation, and then it’s a good idea to step back a bit.

But for fat people, compliments aren’t just good selfish fun. They’re an antidote to the ridiculous amount of negative messages we receive every day.

I’m lucky in that I’ve never gotten fat-related insults from strangers. I’ve never been mooed at, or called a fat ugly bitch from a moving car, or judged on my shopping cart contents. But these are all things that have happened to other women in the fat-o-sphere. And despite my luck at dodging such explicit insults–and in fact getting regular compliments from strangers on everything from my glitter bows to my dark purple skinny corduroys–I still have to deal with something like 386,170 fat-negative messages a year from the media.
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