Monday, April 25, 2016

Microstory 306: Clothing for Protection

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Food for Survival

The concept of wearing textiles over the body in the form of clothing is so old, that we don’t even know how old it is. Experts believe it to be possible that our nonhuman primate ancestors were the first to wear clothes some tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of years ago. Because this would have happened long before reliable record-keeping methods, scientists came to this number by studying the evolutionary variation between body lice and head lice. It’s fascinating that they thought to do something like that to understand something like this. The fashion industry is big business, but clothing is important, regardless of how it looks. Clothing was created to protect people from cold temperatures, and even from the heat, because the sun’s rays can damage the skin. There are other environmental concerns to consider, like toxic or physically dangerous plants, as well as insects. Back before more sophisticated means of making garments, people wore animal furs. This has since become controversial because it is unnecessary to kill an animal only to wear its coat. For some reason, there is not as much outcry when it comes to wearing leather, but it does still happen. Most modern fabrics, however, are made from materials that do not require harming animals, like cotton, wool, and synthetic fibers. If you live in the developed world, you may take clothing for granted. But there are plenty of people—even in your backyard—who cannot afford, or do not have access to, clothing. When you have a minute, take some time to go through your closet and dresser to see if you have any clothes that you no longer wear. These can easily be donated so that others can have the clothes they need to feel safe and comfortable. Clothing is not just for literal protection; it serves a psychological need.


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