Fast fashion retailer Shein is making their rounds in headlines again after the online company is accused by shoppers of lead poisoning.
According to reports and a swirl of TikTok videos, the online retailer was found to have had over 18 times the allotted amount of lead in their clothing.
Lead exposure can lead to many potentially lifelong health complications, including, and not limited to, mood disorders, reduced sperm count/abnormal sperm activity in men, miscarriage/stillbirth for pregnant women, developmental issues in children, and many more. According to medical officials, lead is believed to remain in your blood for one month but can stay in your bones for up to 30 years after exposure.
But where is the lead coming from?
The lead is coming from the dye used to give the clothes color. It’s also the main source of other toxins.
While some argue that washing clothes can help reduce exposure, it may not be so simple for some items. For example, you can’t wash off the toxins that are used to add pigment to your clothing. What’s more, you can be exposed simply by trying your clothing on to see if they fit.
If you do buy the clothes from Shein, the lead may be left in your washing machine after you wash them. Then, the lead can end up in the drinking water of those living in underprivileged areas.
But it’s not just their clothes that are putting people at risk.
A viral TikTok showed the aftermath of using Shein’s nail products. The nail polish leaked into her skin, leading to metal poisoning (potentially caused by mercury). As a result, she’s having nerve issues in her hands.
Earlier in 2022, Shein was scrutinized online after shoppers found the word “help” written on labels. It was believed to be written by employees who were, and still are, working in unsafe and inhumane conditions. Shein has also been criticized in the past for using Muslim prayer rugs as carpets and swastika symbols on necklaces. Some have also accused the company of plagiarizing other brands’ work for years.
When it comes to Shein employees, the problem is much worse. These poor workers are already being forced to work long hours with no breaks in inhumane conditions. But now, they’re being exposed to dangerous chemicals that can cause serious health issues — all to make colorful and trendy outfits and potentially offensive accessories.
So, we need to acknowledge the lack of concern for the safety of the workers, too, not just the buyers.
The scary part about this discovery is that a similar investigation was conducted back in 2021. It found that out of 38 items of clothing, 1 in 5 pieces had elevated levels of chemicals, such as lead, PFAS, and phthalates. Yet, this was barely mentioned in the news for some reason…
And yes, I know there are probably hundreds more popular retailers who have lead in their clothing at unfathomable rates. So, this isn’t a problem related just to Shein. The world needs to know and become educated if there are other companies.
But if this isn’t your sign to stop shopping at Shein, then I don’t know what is.
The point of this article isn’t to shame anyone for purchasing affordable (and adorable) clothing. Let’s be real: They sell some very cute and trendy pieces of clothing for a reasonable price. The point is to bring awareness to what you are wearing and educate everyone on the potential dangers of what you’re putting on your body. I mean, have you ever noticed a warning pop up after you begin to check out online and ignored it because you just wanted to finalize your purchase? These companies fully admit they have high levels of chemicals in their products, and it’s often overlooked. Why?
All in all, as someone who has shopped at Shein, I am utterly disgusted by the findings. And I am even more disgusted and disappointed by the lack of awareness and coverage this has in the media. Shein has become one of the top-grossing retailers internationally in the past year, joining the likes of Zara and H&M. So, where is the accountability for their continuous dangerous actions?
When their unsafe working conditions were revealed, I made a pledge to never shop at Shein again. But after this, I will also look into other fast fashion sites. After all, a lot is clearly being swept under the rug, all in the name of fashion.