Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Persistent Compulsion

Professor Valverde suggested that we try taking part in the compact challenge, or at least thinking about how it affects us. It involves the practice of not buying anything new, with respect to clothes, furniture, etc. If we need to buy something, the idea of the challenge is to buy it secondhand. I thought, “Why not? I’ll try the challenge. It can’t be so bad.” Little did I realize how often it is that I buy little things here and there until I actively tried not to.

I find that stopping myself from buying new things is more difficult because I am subscribed to updates from clothing sites such as Urban Outfitters and 80s Purple. I regularly receive email updates about new items, promotional sales or coupon codes I can use on their sites. I really like the clothing from these sites, but am usually reluctant to purchase anything unless it’s on sale, because of how pricey everything is. Nevertheless, I am proud of myself for having only purchased a couple of new items since starting this challenge (a couple of t-shirts for my taiko group).

I was surfing around the aforementioned sites earlier today and found myself wondering why I and so many others feel this compulsion to buy new things. I know that I, along with many of my friends, are guilty of opening up our closet doors and bemoaning having “nothing to wear,” when it is clear that our closets are far from empty. I think it is useful to note Yuniya Kawamura’s point that “a definite element of fashion is change” (Kawamura, 2005). I don’t know if it is something innately human that triggers this need for novelty, but I am sure that the fashion industry capitalizes on it. I think of celebrities getting their pictures taken 24/7 by the paparazzi, and I know that is it severely frowned upon to wear the same outfit more than once in the public eye – something along the lines of fashion suicide. I’m not sure where the outfits that celebrities wear go, but this seems wasteful to me as well. However, I did come across an article here that said the "queasy-making economy has already affected fashion in subtle ways." It looks like being more green-conscious in this time of recession is in, so even those in the fashion industry are becoming more aware!

Christine Vo

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