Friday, April 17, 2009

The Stop Shopping Challenge

My brother and I were talking recently about the yin and yang that is men and women. Ah yes, talking to my young grasshopper about the facts of life. We talked about how opposites attract and how to make relationships work. As always, he gave me a lot of great insight into how the male mind works. Hopefully I helped as well:) He asked me one question that still lingered after we spoke… ‘Do women ever go to their closet, look inside and think my closet is done. I have everything that I need. I don’t need to shop!’

I'm talking about our NEED to shop. Do you know that little voice in the back of your head that tells you, ‘I need another belt,’ or ‘That dress could look better' or, 'Where did all of my signature pieces go?’ I know that voice all to well. In fact, we’re really good friends. Sometimes that voice suggests new shoes, sometimes a new bag, or sometimes a blue summer dress.

There are even movies that assume this obsession as truth and call us names like ‘Shopaholic’ and ‘Spender.’ I must admit that I sat through the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, which was passable. Though, there was one scene that I absolutely loved. It was when she froze her credit card in a block of ice to stop herself from succumbing to that voice. And then, a ‘fashion emergency’ comes and she goes to her freezer, takes out the ice block and smashes it with her high heel. While holding her credit card up in the air triumphantly, she hears the angels calling, 'Ahhhh!’

I too had this kind of emergency in college. My father had given me a credit card for ‘emergencies.’ I was working two jobs, had an internship and when I saw those shoes for that sorority dance, the voice chimed in, letting me know that it was the kind of ‘emergency’ that my dad was taking about (Not to worry the shoes were from Target, not Manolo's).

Why are we taught in our society not to be happy with what we already have? Well, advertising and marketing for one thing push that little voice into our heads to get the new moisturizer or cardigan. But, why doesn’t our society teach us to give back more? After all, aren’t we more happy or satisfied with ourselves after an afternoon volunteering and helping children?

A couple of years ago, I read the book Born To Buy. Have you read it? It really opened my eyes to the need that people have to buy many more things then they need. The writer's own experience led her to write this book. It was about her and her husband, two middle-class parents, after they had their first child. They were taking their newborn out on his first road trip. After the car was packed, the husband (an Indian) stood back, took a look at the packed car, filled with blankets, diaper bags, bouncy chairs, toys and food and said, ‘We have more stuff for a car-ride for our two month old than our entire family does in India.’

Born To Buy is a perfect title. Aren't we all born to buy in this society? Reading it made me more aware of what I purchase. When I have that voice telling me to buy, I, at the very least, try to look for products that donate proceeds to a good cause (e.g., Breast Cancer research or American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). Is this really enough though? Shouldn’t I be doing more? If our society is trying to go back to the basics because of our recession, then how do I stop my need to buy? Well, I can start by ignoring that voice when I go to my closet. I will open it up and say out loud “I am done. I will use what I have!” Won’t you join me this weekend?


Dollface said...

Hmmm... its really hard sometimes to stop shopping especially when its retail therapy for the soul! I think that its ok in moderation. My dad always says... dont buy what you cant pay off... yikes! xxxo

Char said...

LOL I have done that for 4 months now. Know what will solve the shopping bug??? being laid off. But I do believe this is a good idea of sorts except the econony needs the stimulus of people purchasing to keep alive.

Anonymous said...

I once heard a comedian who questioned how it is that women know when clothes are out of style, and men require expiry dates on their clothes!

I really like this post. I WAS a habitual shopper. And then I began vacationing in developing countries, where I observed people who had NOTHING living with joy! I found myself envying them. I changed. NOW...that is not to say that I don't enjoy the odd pair of designer jeans - I do! BUT, my closet is very much paired down, and I tend to buy more practical items - white shirts that will go with everything, etc.

pj said...

Nothing like a good recession to curb the shopping mentality.

Namine said...

thanks for writing this

Laura said...

Dollface: I love your dad's saying. My Grandmother always says "Pay yourself first." But I use to pay me in clothes:)

Char: Me too I swear. Things have changed all over. This is why I thought you'd like this post :)

Audrey: Isn't it amazing how we change once our eyes are opened to other countries and life? Congrats on breaking a very tough habit. I too have clothes and some designer stuff, but now in moderation.

Laura said...

pj: Seriously. I haven't been to a restaurant in so long that I forgot how much tip was needed. lol.

Marina said...

I'll join you, Laura, for the weekend only!
In all seriousness, though, I do fundamentally agree with you. But the new clothes are so much fun! And I find that as the mother of a young child, my clothes are constantly getting stained. I swear that sometimes I'll wear a shirt once and then it has a stain on it.
That sounds an awful lot like an excuse....

Laura said...

Marina: OK just the for the weekend. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but two days doesn't seem too bad. Have a good weekend!

bridechic said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and I'm soooooooooo glad I found your's. I'll look forward to visiting again and often

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Laura,

Lovely post and I liked the question your brother asked ~ when will your closet be just right?

I think it is always great to be able to indulge in a little window therapy and sometimes if we see something we really love and must have, is all the more special.

Enjoy your weekend

Laura said...

bridechic: You have such a wonderful SF blog. I will try and send many your way. Looking forward to seeing more of your posts as well :)

Draffin Bears: I totally agree and a little window shopping didn't hurt anyone. Ah dare to dream. Thank you for your comments.