This post is part of a series called "my relationship with fashion", talking about self-esteem and mental health related to fashion and style.
Sometimes you come to the realization of some things only when a certain amount of time has passed. Has this ever happened to you? Well, I went exactly through this at the end of 2019 when I realized I had a serious problem with my shopping habits.
I got my first paycheck when I was 24 years old. I remember how excited I was to see those ARS$12.000 in my bank account. I also remember the excitement I felt going into the mall the next day to spend said money on clothes. My compulsive behavior with shopping was fueled by a sum of many things I guess: on one side the fashion industry I was working in that constantly pushes you to get the latest trends. On the other, my coworker (also a fashion designer) who was a compulsive buyer as well. I guess we could add to the math the trendspotting trips from work because, back then, everything was so cheap for us Argentinians! I’d come home with a 23kg suitcase full of amazing clothes for a very reasonable price! Ohhh and don’t get me started on my first ever credit cards! I could spend money on anything I wanted without my parents finding out, crazyyyy! Imagine all of this later on in my life, living alone in my apartment. No one saw the amount of bags and shoe boxes coming in through that main door.
Then suddenly… in June of 2019 I got fired from my job. I never said it coming. I had recently moved out on my own (3 months in) and well, you can imagine I had quite a lot of debt in those credit cards I was talking about above. I had money to pay that debt off, sure, but I also needed that money to survive until I found another job (money for renting, food, and other necessary expenses).
It was then that I had the great idea of cutting off my shopping sprees for good; I needed that money for other purposes! So from October 6th 2019, the day of my birthday, to May 2021, I didn’t buy absolutely ANYTHING. I felt so fulfilled! Although it’s, of course, easier to do when you don’t have a regular income… the real challenge starts from now on, and I’ve got to confess I’m not doing so well — it could be worse, I give you, but that’s a topic for a future post in this series!
Even though it seemed like I’d found a “solution”, it wasn’t until I moved back to my mother’s that I truly realized the dimension of my problem with clothes and shoes. Back at the apartment, my right nightstand was made out of shoe boxes and on one side of the cubes where I stored my jeans I had MORE SHOES. And if the shoes collection seemed like not a lot, I had A LOT of clothes. Too many clothes. To the point that half of the moving truck was filled with just the content of my wardrobes.
Anyway, I didn’t worry that much: back at mother’s I had left this huge wardrobe I had designed myself; it was big and spacious! I knew it was going to be a challenge to fit all of my shoes in there… but I never imagined I had to put up a mini boutique in the back of my house, in the room where my family stored stuff like bikes, the mowing machine and tools.
The act of shopping compulsively is known as “oniomania” (also CBD). I didn’t know it had a name until I decided to write this piece; I feel ashamed. I’m ashamed because I’m a grown-up woman and as tempting as it is to blame my 24/25 years old me, I know I’m 100% responsible for my obsession, and let me tell you it’s been challenging and FAR from being gone. Just 2 weeks ago I bought 4 sweaters IN A SINGLE DAY! That’s crazy.
Far from feeling good (asides from the initial burst of serotonin shopping gives you), compulsive shopping makes you feel:
- Guilty, cause you know that what you’re doing is not good.
- Ashamed, cause you’re already playing your parents and friends opinions about your shopping habits in your head on repeat.
- And afraid, cause most times (if not every) you end up spending more than you can pay for.
The worst is that I’ve come up with carefully designed excuses to cheat my brain every time I know I’m “going to sin”, as I call it:
- I just landed a new job, I totally deserve to self-gift myself! (3 dresses + 1 pair of sneakers)
- The sweaters I own are old and looking kinda crappy for every day wear (4 sweaters)
- Can’t miss the sales!
- Whatever, YOLO…
And when you least expect it, you’ve got yourself a full wardrobe filled with pieces that go from “I LOVE IT I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT” to “meh, that’s cute, whatever”. I’m the lucky type that gets to wear at least 80% of her wardrobe, which is true, but the reality is that I keep some pieces on repeat because I ABSOLUTELY adore them and feel the most comfortable in them, compared to others that I only wear every 3 or 4 months.
On October 6th 2019 I made my last shopping haul video on YouTube. Without wanting to, I started something I never thought I’d be able to do: to not go shopping for the rest of the year. That’s how at the beginning of 2020 I created the challenge of buying only 12 pieces of clothing in the next coming 12 months. And you know what? It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. I’m furious I had to lose my job to finally realize I had a problem, but I’m glad it happened anyway because now I get to share this experience with you in a series of posts I’m calling “my relationship with fashion” — I know, very original LOL, but that’s the kind of content you can expect from me in the following weeks.
Also I’m not going to lie to you: 2021 is proving to be very tough for me. I have spent money and I have bought more than 1 piece in the last month. I’m still under the count of 12, but a part of me doesn’t believe I’ll make it to December. Nevertheless… I don’t know, I’m scared of saying something and then making a fool of myself, but I hope I can come back in New Year to tell you I made it to that damned 12 number again!