When I performed for PCN this weekend I wore a brand new dress. I had other dresses from past events collecting dust in my closet that I could have used, but, for some reason, when I tried them on I didn’t like any of them. I must have liked them at one point since I’ve worn them all before, but I wanted something else. Something new… something more… something no one else would be wearing. So, I decided to lend out all those dresses to other girls in the dance and went out to find one that would set me apart. It occurred to me that I was looking for novelty, and that maybe somehow it was related to a fashion-following mindset. In her book, Fashion-ology, Kawamura discusses how novelty is a crucial, highly-valued aspect of fashion. Ardent fashion followers are ‘neophilia’, which is essential to fashion-oriented behavior (Kawamura 6). So now I’m a neophiliac? How did I catch that disease?
I took a look at my shopping habits and recognized that I am completely consumed by consumer culture. I almost always feel that I need something new – especially with clothing and electronics. I get tired of my clothes quickly and feel like shopping can be a form of recreation. When a new cell phone or music player comes out, I feel like the one I have is inadequate. I never realized that there were consequences to my lifestyle other than to my wallet – I just always wanted something new. Doesn’t everyone?
What is even worse, perhaps, is that we all like getting new things from other people. We love it when our parents buy us new clothes or when our boyfriend or girlfriend buys us jewelry. I’m a monster spreading my neophilia – it’s a disease that becomes contagious. That dress I was looking for? I found it. My boyfriend bought it for me. Close to $200 for a gown that I would only wear for 3 shows. Who knows when I’m going to wear an evening gown again? What was he thinking? He was thinking it would make me very happy - and he was right. I would never say that I’m spoiled, but every once in a while he makes me feel that way. When MAC make-up came out with a Hello Kitty collection I freaked out and decided my life wouldn’t be complete until I had it. The very next week my knight in shining armor ventured off into the foreign make-up stores of the mall and surprised me back Hello Kitty MAC make-up treasure. Amazing.
Is consumerism so much a part of our lives, that we use it to show other people how much we care about them? I’m sure most girls want to be spoiled. If a guy can show her how much purchasing power he has and how wasteful he can be on her, he gains major points. I think we forget there are other ways we can express affection besides spending. A little present here and there is nice, but things we do, say, and create mean just as much, if not more. You could even go back to kindergarten and make a present yourself. My cousins and I still make cards for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and our parents love it. There are tons of sites online that can help give you a little inspiration.
Kawamura, Yuniya. Fashion-ology An Introduction to Fashion Studies (Dress, Body, Culture). New York: Berg, 2005.