Fashion Bloggers Go To Cambodia To Work In Sweatshops In Norwegian Reality Show

This past November, Aftenposten, the largest newspaper in Norway, produced a five-part online reality series in which three 17-year-old fashion bloggers were sent to Cambodia to live and work as textile workers in sweatshops for a month.

It’s a really interesting series, and there are English subtitles, so you can watch it here if you like.

When the bloggers first arrive, as shocked as they are by the conditions in which these people work and live, they sort of numb themselves to it by assuming the people here are just inured to it and it doesn’t bother them. In the first episode, when asked to describe the lives of the sweatshop workers, blogger Anniken Jørgensen describes it as “just OK — they have jobs!”

In episode 2, however, Jørgensen is disabused of that notion when the woman she is staying with tells her how unhappy she is. Jørgensen says that she assumed that because the people there seem “happy” and because they didn’t know any better and had never seen a Norwegian house, that they didn’t realize how bad off they were.

Throughout the series, the bloggers learn what it’s like to work in a Cambodian textile factory all day, and to live in spaces “the size of [their] bathroom,” and are asked to use the three dollars they each earned from a day’s work to feed the entire crew. By the end of the trip, the bloggers come to understand the horror of a life spent working in one of these textile mills.

Each episode is only about 15 minutes long, so if you have some spare time this week, I’d recommend checking it out.

The only problem for me is that the people they sent weren’t people who were, specifically, pro-sweatshop to begin with. They were just people who knew they were bad but didn’t understand the full extent of it. What I think, however, would make this social experiment more interesting, would be to do it using people who felt that sweatshops were a positive thing. Trust me, they are out there. There are people who argue that, as bad as things are, we are doing these people a favor by providing them with jobs and a way to make a living. That’s who I’d be curious to see doing this.

I also think it would be interesting to do something similar, just within the United States. I’d love to see a documentary about someone who opposed raising the minimum wage being required to live the life of a minimum wage worker while trying to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” I think there’s a lot of interesting things that could be done with this basic premise. [ECouterre]