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My Goodies

October 29, 2008

I’m reading this book called Not Buying It by Judith Levine. It’s been on my list of reads for about as long as it’s been published (two years) and I’m enjoying it immensely (your local library is a wonderful thing). It’s pretty fitting to be reading now, with the current state of the economy and the average American’s debt level hovering in the stratosphere. I’m completely fascinated by this work. It was written just after Saddam Hussein was found in that spider hole (circa 2003), and it blows my mind how relevant it is to what’s happening right now.

In the book, Levine reveals the results of a sociological experiment about consumerism that holds a mirror up to our sense of self, both as a country and as individuals. Levine and her partner take a yearlong hiatus from non-essential purchases, meaning, no dining out, no random Amazon or Bluefly must-haves. What they learn in the process is no less than eye opening. What do the consumer goods we purchase – from designer sunglasses to cars to $15 organic cheeses – say about us? Apparently, we are quite vested in them. Can our society and our economy function without consumer consumption?

Not likely, according to Levine. Most people, she writes, can justify spending money on a wide variety of things – and that’s where human nature shows its true, paradoxical self – what one person views as a luxury, another views as a necessity, even if they technically can’t afford it.

So, what did I take away from the book when it comes to my life? I thought that I didn’t generally NEED things to feel a certain way about myself. But I realized there’s a muddy area for me – special occasions. Whenever I have an event – from a baby shower to going home for a week to visit family – no matter, I want something new. Tops, bags, shoes, trousers, dresses…my goodies. We just got word of an engagement of close friends of ours. The wedding will be next summer in Florida – if I had to pick out an outfit today it’d be this…

Maybe I’m just sad summer is gone.

Speaking of which, if I were just one pair boots this season, these are the ones I’d want to be…

Err two pairs of boots…err three pairs of boots.

What would Levine say? Are we all just cogs in this consumer wheel? Want versus need and justification going round and round…