The year 2018 has tested us, my friends. The last 12 months have been a hot dumpster fire of partisan politics, human rights abuses and harsh warnings about environmental degradation. We watched this dude make it to the Supreme Court despite Christine Blasey Ford taking the stand, Doug Ford hack away at any progressive reforms in Ontario—plus Brooklyn Nine-Nine was ALMOST cancelled. And that’s just a tiny fraction of all the BS we endured this year.
It’s been exhausting. So even though all your money has probably gone to face masks in the name of self-care, there’s one more purchase you’re going to want to make this year. It comes in the form of ugly Christmas sweaters.
Over in Finland, one of the largest newspapers, the Helsingin Sanomat (HS), has launched a line of “Ugly Truth Sweaters.” These five chic knits depict the *worst* news of 2018, from sexual harassment to war. The newspaper has been gifting the sweaters to Finnish activists in their respective fields and will be publishing accompanying articles concerning each topic. A small batch of the sweaters will be also available for the public to purchase as of December 17 on their online shop.
So, ditch that Rudolph or Santa sweater and pick up one of these options that will keep you toasty and spark an important conversation. Here’s the rundown of the five designs:
The Climate Change Sweater
The world only has a decade to get climate change under control, according to United Nations scientists. If we don’t cut carbon emissions within the next few years, substantial sea levels rises (enough to measure them in feet instead of inches) and more extreme weather will be heading our way. In other words, we are in big trouble and it’s going to take a lot of global cooperation to get our sh-t together.
The #MeToo Sweater
A little more than a year after the #MeToo movement took hold of the cultural zeitgeist, where are we now? It’s become clear that sexual violence plagues workplaces, homes, social settings, public transit—basically everywhere. The movement shed light on the nature of sexual assault and how survivors cope, but we still have a lot to do in terms of improving legal protections and methods of reporting, and better supporting the most vulnerable survivors, including POC and those in LGBTQ communities.
The Plastic Pollution Sweater
Many popular beaches shut down this year after plastic pollution overtook these areas, harming wildlife and the natural ecosystem. Remember Maya Bay, that insanely picturesque beach in the Leo DiCaprio movie The Beach? Yeah, you can’t go there anymore because of all the garbage. According to non-profit group Plastic Oceans, we’ve produced more plastic in the last decade than in the entire 20th century. And now there are garbage patches—massive, swirling pools of garbage that are kilometres long—all over the world’s oceans.
The War Sweater
It’s important to remember that war does not pause for the holidays. There are ongoing conflicts worldwide that led to mass destruction and casualties in 2018. The war in Syria has killed an estimated half a million people, with nearly 30,000 casualties in 2018 alone. The crisis in Yemen has been largely overlooked this year, despite leading to more than 60,000 deaths in the last two years. Both of these conflicts deserve our attention, compassion and action.
The Tech Manipulation Sweater
Can you trust the tech you use everyday, like your smartphone? In 2018 we *really* saw our privacy concerns brought to light with several big stories concerning devices like smartphones and smart home technology. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg testified on Capitol Hill in April after the Cambridge Analytica scandal where tens of millions of users had their data sold without consent. And it turns out, many of your apps are literally watching your every move, and it’s scary AF. A recent New York Times investigation found that these apps tracked everything from the duration of a woman’s stay at her ex-boyfriend’s house to when another user went to Planned Parenthood for an hour, all without the user’s knowledge.
These sweaters remind us we are #blessed that this year is almost over—and that we have a lot of work to do in 2019.