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?