Which Imagined Self Am I Buying for Today?
Sometimes the vapid consumerism that slams at me from every device I have tires me. It feels like a sugar rush, like a never-ending addiction… a subtle hankering that taps into my ego, my anxiety and my dopamine sensors.
I didn’t realise that I wanted some copper lamps, a piece of LED art, blue crystal goblets for dinner parties… oh gosh why don’t I have a Paisley jacket… and that jumper looks soft, so soft and it’s in the sale…. Why not just.... click, click, ok buy.
It’s not just things either, it’s experiences or being pictured in them. Can you feel what I’m feeling when I see rich, blonde stick insects eating Burgers and drinking rose on rooftops… I don’t even like burgers that much, but I want to tag myself on that rooftop.
And even in my rebellious, political, activist moods, I can consume… get me an anti-Trump, feminist t-shirt someone, every millennial feminist is reading this book and photographs it on a pretty shelf with other suitable books… I probably should do that too…
And I know about child labour and the cost of cheap production and I know that we produce far too much waste in our country and I know that drinking three times a week isn’t good for me. I know I’m too old for a purse with pineapples on or a pink quippy quote for the wall. I know that I can't afford it. I know that the satisfaction I get when I do buy these things lasts about a couple of hours max and then a brief foray on to Instagram and I’m hungry for more stuff – even as I feel choked by its presence.
The problem is I fall into the trap time and again - as many of us do I think - of believing that having something or wearing something can magically transform me into the type of person that has that thing or wears that thing. The advertised “perfect woman”. Everyone’s perfect “I” is different, or in fact you may have many. I lurch from wanting to be “Californian, vegan, yogi woman”, “French, fashion-blogger, digital-guru woman”, “Bisexual, spoken-word artist and Dalston dweller woman” and “Cornwall-living, mother of beautiful, perfect children and photographer woman.” Those are the main ones… there’s thousands of others that happen less frequently.
The truth is no amount of yellow armchairs, bomber jackets or tickets to trendy art shows will make you cooler, prettier, tougher or more brave. I must learn the difference between nourishing armour that helps me step in to myself, such as black eyeliner and a nose ring and pointless accoutrements that like a rich meal makes me fizz in delight for a moment, or longer if I have not indulged for a while, but consumed regularly make me feel sluggish and claustrophobic and mainly just want to go to bed.
I’m working on it and here are a few rules I have made for myself:
1) When purchasing anything non-essential, want it for a month at least before you actually buy it.
2) If clothing or home stuff, check that you don’t have a million other similar things.
3) You would prefer to spend your money on theatre productions than expensive restaurants. Know thyself.
4) Regular blanket bans of buying any non-essential items are good for the soul.
5) Stay off Instagram and unsubscribe to all newsletters trying to sell you stuff.
I must remember after all that we are not our stuff, we are the guts of our insides, we are our vulnerability, our bravery, our tears and our laughter, we are the people we give a shit about and the creativity we put out into the world.
We’re not the fucking artfully placed Dali prints on our wall basically, no matter how much we love them.
Who would you be if you lived in a bare room and wore a white sheet all day. Who would you be if all your expression came from your heart and mind?