Photography by Rebecca Spencer.
Is now the right time to admit I may possibly have a teeny tiny issue with shopping?
In my defence, clothes are an integral part to my job. But yes, hello hi...... I *could* be a shopaholic.
A shopaholic is something many women claim to be and there are so many memes across the interwebs making light-heartedness of buying more and more clothes.
"Shopping is my therapy".
"Shopping is my cardio".
"Shortest ever horror story, SOLD OUT!"
You get my point.
We are in Consumerism Culture if you will, and I have been both a victim and a perpetuator.
From the fat women's perspective buying fashionable and stylish clothes is pretty new. We have only had access to it within the last 4-5 years, probably even less than that. And whilst our choice is still limited compared to straight size fashion, we now have a lot more options to dress ourselves. I, and many other fat fashionista's are fucking celebrating that. We are browsing ASOS every night, having a look at PLT throughout the week and spending an hour or so on other fast fashion websites on a lazy Sunday morning. And why? Because finally, we can!
Identity is an integral part to one's happiness and that includes how we present ourselves. From pink hair to ghetto fabulous nails, from tattoos to big bushy brows - we as human's love to express through our appearances. For me, putting together a sick outfit gives me added confidence to take on the world and feel more myself. If I'm not worrying about what I look like I have more time to do the things I love and feel comfortable whilst doing them. Getting dressed brings a genuine smile to my face.
Nonetheless, with turning 30 this year (CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THIS), the horrific state of our planet, as well as learning more and more about my subconscious programming, the veil has now been lifted.
A few months ago, my thoughts towards shopping and money had changed, and because of these two things, I decided to embark on a 'No Spend January'.
AND FUCK ME... I learnt so much.
Not buying clothes for a whole 30 days may seem like no big deal to many people, but it was for me, especially at the rate of my consuming.
I shopped for my job. I shopped for the gram. I shopped for my happiness. I shopped for my sadness. And looking back I probably ever rarely shopping for my highest good. There was also some sort of emotional need that I was screaming to be met.
It got to a point though where I was placing an ASOS order 3-4x a week, buying something incase it went out of stock and then buying something else because someone on IG had it and I told myself I needed it.
My bank balance was severely declining and I had no idea (lol) where all my fucking money had gone!
Due to conversations during my therapy sessions, I knew my spending wasn't just a mindless act that I needed to reign in. It was something deeper.
It was about validation, boredom and of course my emotions.
So I chose not to shop for the entire month of January in order to really feel what was going on, and one of the biggest things I realised was about an unconscious power and control dynamic that I had. Keeping my money, investing my money and saving my money made me feel too powerful, that I was earning too much and therefore I couldn't relate to my own self anymore? (Soz if this doesn't make that much sense lol, but I'm going to keep on typing anyway).
Like everything else in the universe, money is energy and I have had no issues with manifesting it, my problem was giving it away. And every time I gave it away with no thought, I was giving a part of myself away too.
Money for me is security & safety because growing up we didn't have much, so I knew from a very young age the importance of it. I started earning at 10yrs old due to being in the performing arts industry and I've stayed on that path ever since. I've been making money to get out and escape, and i've been giving it away to be rescued and saved - as if I was still a child.
This is what trauma does.
It seeps so far down into your subconscious that you can barely feel it. And if you can feel it, you are so used to it that you recognise it as you.
It's not you.
And it wasn't me.
And I realised so much of this during my no spend month.
Not spending gave me space and time to connect to myself. Whenever the feeling arose to spend I began to ask myself why. Sometimes it was because of Instagram, sometimes it was because I was sad, sometimes it was because I was bored. And only once was it because I genuinely needed something.
(If you're wondering what I needed it was a black vinyl knee length trench that sold out so I'm fucking devastated but it is what it is LOL. And by need, I don't actually need anything, its more like wanting something so bad because it would go with pretty much everything in my wardrobe). You get the jist!
It wasn't all doom and gloom though. I realised that my body feels different when I'm shopping for the right reasons. It feels lighter and at a state of calm. Instead of chaotic and full of guilt. I've also realised that you can shop as much as you like, you just don't need to buy anything. And then I also realised that hmmmmmm...., what makes spending money so fun?
Well, it was so fun because I enjoyed the control and power it made me feel and this warped reality I have been in, was serving a core belief that I held of "I am not enough and I am underserving".
I shopped for validation, to make me feel like I was okay and in control because I've been in survival mode for all of my life (I'm not anymore - blogpost on that coming soon), and I guess I shopped to fill the void.
The same way people turn to sex, drugs/alcohol and food. I was using the coin in my account.
I also fell victim to Youtube haul culture and the online community of constantly buying new things.
Eventually that became boring too.
Constantly being encouraged to spend and then encouraging to spend didn't serve me anymore.
Plus, I was really sick of having to do returns lol.
So here we are.
Out the other side with a completely different perspective when it comes to spending. I am now much more aware of the reasons behind why I spend & that helps me when making decisions.
Do I really need something VS do I want something and if I want something, why do I want it? Where has this come from? Who have I been influenced by etc?
This journey to curb my spending isn't over. I'm still navigating my need for newness with my job & I guess trying to find a balance that works for me.
Writing this has been cathartic but also made me feel a little embarrassed. I wish we all spoke about money more because I'm really over the shame that silence brings. My spending served its purpose because its allowed me to uncover a deeper awareness of myself, but its also gave me some credit card debt and a wardrobe full of shit I don't fucking wear.
What are your thoughts surrounding consumerism and spending?
I would LOVE to talk about this more.
(You may be wondering why I haven't mentioned sustainable fashion. That's because I'm saving it for a post of its own).