Monday, January 22, 2018

When a "Treat" isn't...

How many times has a friend said, "Oh, go ahead, it is only four bucks and it is a treat." This of course in reference to some unintended purchase of coffee, candy or another thing you or I suddenly fancy. Our consumerist environment encourages this behavior, particularly with more expensive items.

The "Oh, go on, you deserve it," comments of this world are powerful reinforcers. They bolster flagging confidence, doubting Thomases and those whose self-esteem hinges on what they have, what they lack or how they believe others perceive them. Many of us don't think twice about shopping for entertainment, having a girls day out at an expensive salon or buying something we really don't need and would not particularly want but for having in our face at the Mall.

Advertisers play on our emotions. Having grown up with a mother who was the very essence of the shop until you drop slogan emblazoned across one of her tees, she loved to look, and elevated shopping to an art. Her disappointment in shopping with me, who would rather read a book, listen to music, visit the park or beach or browse a good used book store, was often audible. With every exasperated sigh I simply learned, and not for the umpteenth time, that I somehow did not fit a prescribed mold belonging to most women. She, on the other hand, would take note of all of the "new" clothes, foods and other material things she saw in ads on our trips to visit relatives or travel in the US and search out whatever she wanted. At her death almost twenty years ago, I donated drawers of new lingerie and clothing, tags still attached, to a women's shelter, wondering why a dying person would fill her dwindling days with retail therapy.

The product of depression-era, frugal parents who always had an income, my mother was  among those women who colored her hair, wore make-up every time she left her home, made sure her lipstick and mascara were just right and enhanced her almost-five-foot-eight height with size ten heels, a rare find for a working woman in the 1960's. Artistically talented, she could also easily cook and sew. Though she later claimed that sewing was for  poor women, she and I both wore some of her creations until I was well into my teens. Deficits in motor development meant that my skills would never be a match, so I focused on academics, books, animals and music while along the way forsaking bright and beautiful retail for the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of second-hand and a growing savings account balance.

I do love treats, a good book, a trip to the beach, a possibly soon-to-be-adopted furry baby, aromatic natural soap. a chat with a friend, a good game of Scrabble or some very occasional chocolate. Some days, it is a treat not to have pain anywhere or to have the luxury of an extra cup of tea.

What about you?

12 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

I have almost total sales resistence. I just don't like it (with the exception of books and plants). And am happy in both of my exceptions to go the 'second hand/community garden' path.
And yes, I hear you, sometimes no pain, or a good nights sleep is a treat of immeasurable price.
Hugs.

Martha said...

Fingers crossed about the soon-to-be-adopted furry baby! Can't wait to hear more news...

I do not like shopping, especially clothes shopping. I might treat myself to something that pertains to a hobby I enjoy (reading, art, photography, spirituality, gardening) but that's about it.

Steve Reed said...

I think it's important to be able to treat yourself occasionally without feeling guilty, but at the same time, not to over-indulge. Moderation in all things! I remember when we went to dinner with your mom in college and I do vividly recall how great she looked.

A Cuban In London said...

Great post. The degree to which we delude ourselves is one of capitalism's greatest achievements.

Greetings from London.

Live and Learn said...

I've never been a big shopper. I'm just not that interested in it. It takes too much effort when you always have to have a budget in mind. While I wore hand-me-downs from my sisters and cousins, I didn't like to wear other thrift shop or clothes given to me. In a small town, I could easily be in class with the person who donated the clothes. Then the snickering and teasing would begin. I am happy with thrift store clothes these days. Decades later, I'm not quite as insecure as I was then.

Wisewebwoman said...

My BFF who died raised retail therapy to an art form we couldn't understand each other's life philosophies but adored the differences of our 65 year friendship. I'm thrift store all the way and now that I'm downsized to a 1 bedroom everything I bring in here has to be, optimally, multi purposed.Treat would be use of a gift movie card to see a desired film. Fired up to take some pictures for a series of cards, a new design to use up some wool stash, an email from the library to tell me some of my requested books are in.......etc.

XO
WWW

37paddington said...

Someone asked me the other day, “And what do you do just for you?” I was flummoxed and could not come up with a response.

Friko said...

Shopping bores me. Like you, I prefer a book and almost anything else to shopping. That’s just personal preference.
Presumably you were a child when your Mum dragged you around the shops, in my experience, most if not all, children hate shopping.

Your Mum must have had some kind of deficit in her life, loneliness, lack of concentration, the need to buy love, perhaps. The need to buy self love. Sad lady, really. But I wouldn’t want to judge her for her preferences.

I love treats but they are rarely shop-buyable. I would love to spend money on myself, I simply find it too difficult. I’m not mean, just frugal, after a lifetime of saving rather than spending. How silly of me, in a way. Perhaps your Mum was more sensible, even is she didn’t spend wisely.

jenny_o said...

I would like to say I am not a shopper, and I tend to think of myself as not a shopper, but that is only for new retail goods ... when it comes to thrift stores, I am definitely a looker and if the price is right I'm a shopper too. Ugh. I hate to admit that. One thing that has driven my clothes shopping is a steady increase in weight. Again, ugh.

But I'm definitely not a hair/makeup/clothing person!! I want to be comfortable (not sloppy, just comfortable) and getting dressed up or made up is so opposite to that.

Jenny Woolf said...

I cringe when I hear "you deserve it" but I reserve the deepest cringe for "pamper yourself" ! It always reminds me that I actually don't like indigestion provoking meals out in pretentious restaurants, sickly chocolate, a tedious spa treatment or anything super expensive that someone else tells me to buy...

Secret Agent Woman said...

I totally get "retail therapy" with its momentary rush but I fully believe it is plain not good for you. You are destined to feel let down. For me, I love travel, being in nature, good food, time with people I care about, and getting lost in my garden or a book. All those rank WAY above new things.

Secret Agent Woman said...

The other day, a woman mentioned on a minimalist facebook page that she was weighing purchases these days with "Do I need it or do I deserve it?" What?? Deserve has nothing to do with anything. She means do I want it?