I am a recovering materialist. It came home freshly to me the other day when I picked up an Anthropologie catalogue and a Boden kids catalogue from the recycling container in our foyer just for fun—something I haven’t done in a long time. I think they stopped sending them to me when they realized I’m not going to buy anything from them anymore. Flipping through the catalogues gave me a new perspective on something I’ve been struggling with for years now.
The Good Ol' Days
It’s easy to fall into the “happier-when” trap. After my husband and I got married, we’d put on a bunch of weight and then had taken it off plus a little more. I keep remembering that period of time as a really happy, wonderful season. The reality? What I’ve been remembering are actually a few isolated moments of “happiness” that actually centered around the buying of new clothes. When I picked up those catalogues again, I was reminded of how I’d spent the majority of my thought energy during that stage of my life: in scheming how we could afford for me to wear J.Crew and Anthropologie clothing.
On one level I think this is hilarious. I was showing my middle-class aspirations. I had no yearnings whatsoever toward designer clothing, even though I’ve always been an avid watcher of Project Runway. And I love Ellie Saab and Marchesa (can I get an amen?). On another level, I find it really sad and frightening that my virtual environment has me pegged so well—that I have put myself into a position to be sold-to at such a relentless pace. Looking at those catalogues afresh, I was forced to admit I had actually been very dissatisfied and unhappy with my life. I was relying on some voices that ultimately didn’t care about me to tell me what I wanted.1