Fashion and Values in Cuba

Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

Tennis in hard currency. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Almost everyone likes to follow fashion. Fashion is constantly changing, recycling styles that were popular in the past or setting new trends. This diversity makes it easy for the fashion industry to lure people with very different tastes.

In Cuba, we are not immune to these fluctuations, which decide what’s in style and what isn’t. Sometimes, we even go as far as judging a person not only on the basis of their feelings and character but also from what they wear.

Let me illustrate my point. I am 37, I feel young and I like to dress fashionably. There are things I can’t afford on my salary, but I feel good about myself and I don’t think I dress badly. What I dislike is this whole business of fashion having become a lifestyle and that society should reproduce the kind of frivolity that turns the lives of parents, adolescents and young people into a veritable race to keep up with latest trends.

As a mother, I have tried to teach my son values such as respect, love and selflessness in one’s relationships with others (be them elderly people or people who need one’s help). Some kids and teenagers in my neighborhood tell me that’s “not in”, as though they were talking about a trend and not about upbringing.

These same young people tell me they only hang out – and will continue to hang out – with people who dress like they do or wear clothing more expensive than theirs – that is to say, what’s important to them isn’t the person as such, what how much the clothes they wear cost.

Perhaps 50 % of parents in this country can afford to spend 100 dollars in a pair of shoes for their kids, but, if they fail to teach these kids to become good people, to respect and value people regardless of the money they have, what they are conveying to them is that material possessions are more important than human values.

Clothing wears and is ultimately thrown away, but values prevail and ennoble people. I know many people who lead material lives, who are in relationships, not out of love, but because of what their partners can give them. They make friends for the same reasons, without feelings or principles – they are empty, unscrupulous people.

We can’t continue to encourage this mentality. Material belongings cannot continue to be valued so much. We parents must prevent these attitudes from spreading further.