I cringe every time I hear a woman list shopping as one of her hobbies. It’s usually said with a coy smile or a giggle as if she is trying to look like a thirteen-year-old girl. If a woman makes her own cash, has socked away enough for retirement and has met all of her other financial obligations (not just surviving on credit), then there may be less harm in it. However, it still annoys me that so much of “shopping” is buying into false assumptions:
1. More is better
2. Newer is better
3. Appearance (of our home, hair, clothes) is the highest standard
4. That shopping is a constructive activity of camaraderie
The mall has replaced the front porch or the kitchen as the gathering place for women to come together. While I am thrilled that women no longer belong only in the home (as if we ever did), it’s as if women all went flying out of the house and got snagged in the sale racks at the mall like bugs in fly paper, completely missing the rest of what life has to offer.
Of course, merchandisers are more than happy to jump on the bandwagon. When I see a young girl with a t-shirt that says “Born to Shop” I feel hopeless. She’s being raised by Fifth Avenue instead of her parents.
I would be so happy to see women gather for reasons other than accumulating more stuff, obsessing over how you look or the overrated “girls night out” where you spend $5 per drink to sit in a loud place and roll your eyes if guys talk to you and pout if they don’t.
Shopping should be a means to an end. Need food? Go to the grocery store. Need a garden hose? Go get it.
But does this sound familiar:
“What are you doing this Saturday?”
“Oh, we’re going to the mall/Lowe’s/Best Buy/book store just to look around and then have lunch.”
There is nothing you lack, yet you are trolling for new ways to spend money you haven’t thought of yet.
Here are five alternatives to shopping that will make you thin, beautiful and popular! (Okay, that’s a lie. But shopping doesn’t do that either, even though ads indirectly claim it does.)
1. Invite a girlfriend for a walk, run or a swim
2. Organize a women’s canoe trip
3. Meet women friends at a gazebo at your local park and tell stories
4. Call the person who knows and loves you best to reconnect
5. Play kickball with your kids
Don’t lose focus of what’s important – connecting with those around you and aspiring to a higher purpose. Don’t get too busy mimicking empty ideas of people from television.
Even if you have plenty of money to spend, a hollow answer to a real problem is still a hollow answer. Recognize when you are going shopping just to have social interaction. Also, recognize when you are shopping because you are down and feel like something new will make you feel better. Go outside and watch the bugs and squirrels, listen to the birds. Pick a few flowers and put them in a glass in your bedroom. Remember that you are a part of the world.
If you, like George Costanza, have always wanted to be a marine biologist, then go to a nearby aquarium, plan a trip to the coast, take a class at the local university. Don’t just buy dolphin earrings and collect all twelve of a dolphin Christmas ornament set. Don’t become a caricature of your dream. Go out into the world and live your life instead of trying to buy it.