Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Fell Off the Wagon

So after 4 months of buying nothing new, I fell off the wagon last week. Here's what I bought:

Swimsuit (Made in USA)
Undergarments (Made in USA and Europe)

Two of these technically fall into my acceptable exceptions (Made in the USA), but I honestly didn't need any of these things. These were also all things I purchased for my wedding and/or honeymoon, which really makes me think about the pressures of the wedding industry and our consumer culture in general. Why do we feel the need to buy something shiny and new for these special occasions? Why am I being told to spend $$$$$$ on fancy new things for our wedding? Don't I already have nice dresses, swimsuits, and undergarments? And when did the process of shopping for wedding stuff become this all-important rite of passage for every bride to make a big deal of and share with her nearest and dearest (i.e. Say Yes to the Dress -- now there's a glorified monetary transaction)?

Okay that's a lot of questions there, but all of this really has gotten me thinking about how we've completely commercialized and put price tags on these special occasions in our life. Isn't a wedding about love (both with your partner, and with your family and friends)? Isn't Mother's Day about celebrating the woman who gave you life? Aren't birthdays about celebrating the awesomeness of special friends and family? And don't even get me started on Christmas and Hanukkah.

When did we start letting corporations sell us this idea of all this "necessary" stuff? The idea that you absolutely must purchase cute, themed tangible items for people on designated days of the year? And that you absolutely must have a new outfit for every special occasion? And that, if you are a bride, well then you absolutely must secure yourself a whole new wardrobe full of white dresses and bathing suits and shoes and bachelorette party apparel, etc.?

This whole notion of the "stuff" that is linked to these holidays and celebrations is so new. Do you think people in the 1930's and 1940's bought new outfits for every wedding and birthday party? Or bought presents for everyone they knew at Christmas? Or even received presents for so many of these holidays that have now been totally commercialized (i.e. Easter, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day)? Giving a gift used to be a special and unexpected gesture of compassion and friendship, and now it's become a required part of nearly every major holiday and celebration. So much so that we make registries to tell people what to get us, because we know they're going to buy us something. (I guess that's part of what really bothers me about registries).

So here I am to admit that, for a week or two there, I totally got sucked into this. I was sold the idea that my wedding would be less special if I didn't have "all the stuff," and I totally bought in. But now I'm seeing through the B.S. My wedding (and my life!) will be just as amazing, just as wonderful, just as special without "all the stuff" -- in fact, it might just even be better.

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