A friend and I were comparing notes the other day. She and I both have nervous stomachs, a passion for social justice, and a soft spot for t-shirts, note cards, mugs, you name it which carries a social message, is cussy, or, preferably, both.
Now is a golden age for the kinds of things we like to buy. Facebook ads have picked up on our weaknesses, and neither of us can scroll without seeing the latest Emily McDowell studio print or Effin Birds tote bag and with it, the temptation to click.
The problem is that in the same way some people may emotionally eat or cathartically curate their ideal lives on Pinterest, I buy t-shirts and mugs that represent my frustration at the state of the world.
But what I do not get from these things, by and large, is a feeling that I am contributing in some way to actually change the state of the world. Sure, my mug makes me feel like a badass when I drink from it (and life’s too short to drink from non-basass-inspiring mugs, amirite?), I cannot help but think: Where does my money go? Who or what does it benefit? Who made this mug?
It’s hard for me to not turn into a one-woman rendition of Portlandia, where the characters are so obsessed with the pedigree and every tiny detail of the chicken they were going to be served in a restaurant, that they cannot actually eat the chicken in the end.
Truth is, when I look at my life and the lives of many many others I know, we don’t need anything. And certainly not at all in any comparison to the huge numbers of people just in our own community who don’t even have basics. How do I weigh my desire for something against the space it will take up, the materials it will use, the labor it will exploit? (Just typing this makes me want to move into a yurt and become anhedonic. Except that I’m super not meant for yurt life.)
But what if there were a solution? One that combined my love of things that are sassy and well-meaning, which raised money for a cause I believe in, and was sustainably and thoughtfully sourced? Well, I’d buy a ton of that. I would buy it for anyone I felt I needed to give a gift. Because it would tick all the boxes.
So I decided to make that thing. That thing I could feel good about. That thing I knew I could ask people to spend money on, knowing that it was imbued with good. That thing that would empower the people who wear it to be their best selves. It’s more than just a gift, it’s an example of how I want the world to be.
Stand up for what you believe in.
Empower those around you to show up.
Give voice to vulnerable people and populations.
It’s the best gift you can give.
The OUTSIDE VOICE shirt
Buy it for yourself.
Buy it for your BFF, your mom, your activist idol, your tribe, your kids.
- 50% of profits go directly to support the campaigns of women of color running for public office!
- 100% organic cotton with soy-based ink
- Printed by a woman-owned small, local screen printer with a diverse staff, who offers fair pay and benefits
T-shirts come in women’s cut, kids, and unisex styles. View all styles here. Each shirt marked as a gift will contain a message for the recipient explaining the meaning of the phrase, and an appreciation of the ways they are using their outside voice. Bonus sheet of OUTSIDE VOICE stickers with every order!
What are you waiting for? Check one more thing off your to-do list, and make the world a better place, all at the same time. BUY THE SHIRT. Give the gift that gives back.