Questioning consumerism doesn’t mean never buying anything, or even only buying necessities (at least to me). I think it’s about thinking about what I want to buy and why, and looking to see if I can either make do without or recycle. I needed a new suitcase for an upcoming trip. I looked at two places and was debating between two different suitcases when I went to the Goodwill and found the perfect thing for $4.99. Saved myself $45 and am reusing something instead of buying new. 4 years ago
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It seems that our world plants this seed of want, want, want, when people know they will never be able to fill the vast depts of the soul with “things” 5 years ago
The idea for this goal first came to me while reading Packaging Girlhood by Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown. Basically it studies how girls are classified by marketers and the media (and society’s stereotypes) to be comsumers starting at a very young age and discusses how to deal and combat those sexist messages. This Christmas I was browsing through the toy aisle looking for gift ideas and it’s shocking at the toys available for girls: baby dolls to mother, dolls to buy fashions for, dolls that are slutty because they’re somehow “empowered”, and makeup to practice looking beautiful. The girls’ t-shirts were printed with “Born to Shop,” “Shop til you drop,” and “Princess” – and everything in pink or purple only. Not too many imaginative or creative gifts available, not like the toys marketed for boys – things I thought were pretty cool and never got to play with when I was a kid (science toys like growing cystals, legos, motorized kits where you could build your own car, etc.). I guess it’s not too shocking since that’s what was for sale when I was that age, although I think pre-teens are more sexualized now than twenty years ago. The message is the same though, girls shop. There was even play pink purses with fake credit cards in them ready to practice with!
I don’t have any kids, but was a girl once and am a consumer – and it struck me how those ingrained marketing messages are still affecting what I buy today. The gobs and gobs of makeup, polish, lotions, hair products, etc. etc. that are needed to fit society’s norm of what beauty is. The incredibly uncomfortable (and sometimes dangerous) fashionable shoes. Even impulse shopping and the idea of retail therapy.
Of course marketers aren’t only targeting pre-teen girls, we’re a culture of consumers ready with cash and credit cards. Now I try to question every purchase I make – why do I feel the need to buy it? Do I really need it? Or am I just buying into the marketing pitch? 5 years ago