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Confessions of a Binge Shopper

Indulgence and Consumer Culture

from Confessions of a Shopaholic (P.J. Hogan 2009) 

I’ve been down on my luck for almost a year now since my inevitable university convocation. Within eight months, I’ve managed to obtain four jobs and lose them all before 2018 came to an end. If there are any acclamation for a person acquiring four jobs and still ending up unemployed after twelve months, I think I deserve all the accolades. However, this is not the point I wish to address and I can save my employment woes for another article.

Your mood swiftly changes into thinking that everything is out of your reach when you are down on your luck. Job security, financial security, and success moves further away with each passing day of unemployment. In order to lift your spirits up, momentarily, you engage in some retail therapy. It may seem harmless, like buying a brand-new leather jacket when you know you have an identical one in the back of your closet, but it could soon turn into an addiction.

from Confessions of a Shopaholic

One of my final papers in university was focused on the book Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, which opened my eyes to see that we use shopping to escape our problems temporarily and to indulge in material things to make the appearance to the world that everything is okay. After reading the novel for the first time, I had concluded that I am a shopaholic and I resonated with Becky Bloomwood. We, like Becky, live in a society that urges people to brand and market themselves. Shopping, for us, enhances people's perception of us and brightens our mood. Perhaps, this may make us appear narcissistic and irresponsible, but do we have control of this when we are constantly bombarded by advertisements.

After reading the book (and watching the movie), I’d decided to turn a new leaf and only buy things that were necessary. I’d outlined a budget and limit myself to $100 a month for any fun activity I wanted to do, then dedicating the rest of my salary equally to paying bills, my savings account and investment portfolio. I did all of this when I had a job and at a time I thought things were on the up and up for me. I went six months on my new lifestyle, and I thought I’d waned myself off my bad habit. 

from Confessions

Well, a job I thought was going to be a stepping stone for establishing my career fell through and I was left feeling disappointed and jaded. Do you know what I did? I went through my savings account like a maniac. I started buying expensive food and tons of clothing just to get over this heart break. Every week rather than every month, I had wine night. Bought takeout three times a week, went on a trip out of town, attended concerts all in the name of repairing my damaged ego. Let’s not talk about sales! I was a frugal shopaholic if you’d ever heard of one.

 When it was time to pay my rent, I came to an abrupt halt. I’d just went through two-and-a-half months worth of rent money because I couldn’t get a grip on my fragile ego. I’d been binging and I was obsessed with wanting to feel happy and accomplished. I’d looked the part especially with my new clothes and hair, but inside I was still trying to come to terms with my overwhelming feeling of lack. Like Becky, "I've merely been succumbing to the Western drag of materialism."

 from Disney's The Little Mermaid (John Musker, Ron Clements 1989)

In my essay I wrote, “your clothing choice influences how people perceive you. It gives people an idea of your personality and often your occupation. Clothing also determines your socioeconomic status, and it appears the amount of clothing a person owns (not to mention the brand of clothes) determines how high their social position is in society.” Is it true that I wanted to appear a certain way to other people? I know for certain that being a shopaholic had created adverse affects to my current financial situation. My goal was to create an emergency fund, but now I am left repairing the damages from my careless spending. At the end of the day, I can recognize my faults and resolve those issues that need to be fixed, so I can get back on track of saving for the future. My hope is that I do not succumb to another bout of binge shopping.

Until next time my fellow oniomaniacs.

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