Why Do We ALL Shop, really?

A friend of mine used to be a home maker. With kids at home, her hands were full taking care of her family. She loved them, but she missed out on dressing up, meeting people apart from her husband or his friends. Every time we met at a coffee shop, she used to feel despondent about not being out there in the world. She fancied buying different shoes, and spoke with such enthusiasm about other people’s attire.

When asked why she wasn’t buying fancy clothes for herself, her simple answer was, “Oh..where would I wear it to? It’s a waste of money….I have to buy my kids clothes every other month as they grow up so fast..I don’t think it would be a good idea to buy me clothes when I don’t have anywhere to go…“. “When is the last time you bought some dresses for yourself?” I was curious. “Hmm…not sure…been more than 6 months…maybe will buy one for Marcel’s birthday next month”, she said.  I looked at her. The idea seemed to brighten her face up instantly.

What is that about buying clothes which lifts one’s spirits? Is it the case with only home makers, because they have the yearning for buying dresses but they know they won’t be using it as much? Or is it universal, also applicable to working people? Is shopping a stress buster, a happiness buyer?

I met the same friend after she got a job at the bank. She came to my house, in new clothes, new sunglasses, new coat, new shoes and with a big smile on her face. Not only her attire, her personality was new as well. I was so thrilled for her. She looked so happy. Her job, her new found source of income, her independence  had changed her attitude. But more than that, I think it was that with her independence she was able to buy for herself what she wanted, which made her glow.  It boosted her self confidence, gave her a completely new persona. 

It is the same with most of us. We shop to make ourselves feel better. Gone are the days where we purchase clothes just for special occasions, it has become more often now, a causal affair, something to do when we are bored. Shopping gives most of us a sense of independence. With my friend, though she was able to afford new clothes even before she was working she didn’t feel it made sense to buy new clothes when she was staying at home. Now that she was working, it gave her a reason to buy clothes for herself. It gave her a sense of achievement, which was long-pending. 

So what’s wrong with that you ask? The thing is, we have started to buy things more frequently, to give ourselves a sense of accomplishment every now and then. We want to appreciate ourselves and get that extra boost flowing within us.  So is it really a stress buster then? While some may call this frequent shopping a kind of stress therapy, others may call it a gimmick to make people buy more clothes.

Most of the men would immediately spring up arguing that they are equally stressed out, but they don’t shop for clothes as much as women. Truth is, in the recent years, men are shopping more than women, only difference being what items they buy, where they buy them and for what reason they buy them. 

For example, women buy things with which appeal to their emotions, asking themselves questions on how the product will make them feel…while men tend to buy things rationalizing their purchase, giving it a logical spin for themselves. While men spend more amount for a single purchase on the internet, women spend comparatively lesser amounts, in retails stores, but they do it more frequently.So to cut it short, the times have changed where one can argue that it’s only women who are shopping a lot. Men and women are equal partners in crime for being shopaholics.

So why do we this? Do we really need those items we buy? Or do we shop to boost our ego? Does it give us self-confidence? Does it relieve stress? Is it really a form of therapy? I am sure the person who is building the bridge outside my apartment, can definitely use all that shopping therapy gives them. But why do they don’t? And why do we then, really? It is the “If you have it, flaunt it” attitude which strikes me more here. ‘We have money, so why not buy things we want’ kind of attitude. 

So every excuse we give for shopping is complete BS. We are crazy, stupid spendthrifts, that is all. Let’s call it as it is. I think in the end, we are all yearning for appreciation and admiration, be it from our crush, friend, boss, competitor. But we need to stop and think whether that pat in the back we give to ourselves have to be worth Rs.5000. We spend to make ourselves look bigger and better…in whose eyes? Maybe at one point we will all realize the futility of it all.

Oh, and my friend with 2 years into her bank job, met with me friend recently. She buys clothes when needed, but not unnecessarily. Got used to the people, so yeah.., she said. I have this other friend of mine, who is highly successful, but she thinks carefully before purchasing any item. She is happy and more importantly, contented. May be what we should all be aiming for. Contentment. What we are all doing currently is shopping for happiness, if we can afford it. 

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padhs2k Written by:

Another dream-chaser.

One Comment

  1. Men also buy a lot – electronics, software, etc. What they buy is different, that’s all. If there is too much stress, I feel, shopping might give some temporary relief. It’s OK now and then, but we need to take care that it doesn’t become an addiction. Reducing the amount of stress in our lives is an even better idea.

    Destination Infinity

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