token girl: like a girl, but better

Tuesday, 27 January 2004

m-m-material grrl

'Sometimes I feel just like Bridget Jones. You know, like, how she aleays looks a mess whatever the hell she tries. That's me. Not too bothered...' January 26 6.55 pm

inside laura’s head: Material Girl as Good Charlotte oh-so tunefully observe, it often does appear that girls live for shopping sprees and not really much else. Most girls I know possibly have some kind of shopping addiction, in fact. They pay far more than they can afford for ‘that new item’, the item which, let’s face it, they’re usually bored with after one ‘showing’. and are already re-claiming they need something new as they ‘have nothing to wear’. ½ Why, when passing a shop I’ve looked around hundreds of times before and have a pretty full knowledge of what I expect to be in there, do I feel an overwhelming desire to go in? Even if I’m meant to be doing something far more important and am already late for it? It irritates me. I shop so much, I have begun to recognise which shops other people’s clothes and accessories are from. ½ The Selfridges’ summer sale advert urgently asks ‘do you have something missing in your life?’ If I do, it’s certainly not something I could buy in their store. Hmmm… I could probably spend a whole day looking, though. Selfridges is like some kind of museum, with its beautiful building and items in glass boxes. Although I try to ignore it, the constant knowledge that I don’t really need anything (stuff), except for a scrap of food and dribble of water, is what makes shopping so frustrating. Maybe Selfridges is right and I am missing something. Sanity. Otherwise I would probably stop spending most of my life searching for something perfect to buy. What really makes me do this? Is it an addiction, another unsatisfied appetite, or do I simply have nothing else to do with my free time?
I have a number of theories as to why I feel the need to go shopping so often:
1. It is something to do, which feels vaguely more productive than sitting in an airless room watching crap TV.
2. When I buy one thing, I need to buy something else to match.
3. I am, actually, addicted.
4. Maybe I want to look different each time I go out, so I can pretend I’m a different person.
5. Maybe I’m trying to satisfy a sexual appetite, which obviously can’t be done with shopping, yet I’m doomed to continue trying. Polly Young Eisendrath has written about this idea in Women and Desire. She suggests that ‘female material desire involves an obsession with attaining complete release from the pain of the past, unaware that these obsessions can never be satisfied through material means’….well, I may be aware, but it doesn’t help me.
6. I’m female. Shops were designed and created for my half of the species. Eisendrath mentions this too, how ‘shopping malls were created by male retailers (to cater) specifically for women’s needs and desires. The new, colourful, bright shopping environments promised women some form of individual freedom, as it offered them choice and let them develop a feeling of being in charge of one’s own being.’ The female desire to shop also seems to annoy men, maybe it seems like some form of rebellion. Yet, men made shopping for us. Hmmm, my desire to shop is decreasing rapidly.
The sad thing is, however much I shop, I don’t even like it very much. This is partly because I always wish I had more money. Its partly because sometimes I feel I’m not actually choosing to go shopping but that I just HAVE to but it’s mostly because I hate trying on beautiful clothes that never seem to fit and that seem to be designed solely to reveal my ugly bulges ever more prominently. It depresses me. So much for shopping therapy.

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