I love to shop. That is something you may have gathered if you’ve kept an eye on this space. Some people ask me why, others simply give me looks and I have even found a few comments here and there on the almighty interwebs about my shopping behavior. It’s not that I feel a need to explain myself, because in the end I know I shop a lot. I don’t need anyone telling me that. Nor do I think I need to justify why I do it. But I know there are specific reasons why I do shop a lot: it involves knowing a bit about me.
Before I start off with the why, I would like to point out one very basic point. I started out this blog with the intention of writing about everything I deem enjoyable. Shopping being one of them, I quickly started sharing some of the things I bought. It’s my shoplogs that started to elicit the most views. I believe the most read post on this blog is a shoplog from almost a year ago. Apparently, I buy things that people want to see, because otherwise Google wouldn’t take them here. I have also received feedback indicating that my collective shopping posts are the most fun to read. Now who am I to bite the hand that feeds me?
On to the why. When it comes to shopping I have gone through quite the evolution. I remember my first real shopping spree where I spent quite a bit of money in one go. I was still in highschool and Holland had just changed from guilders to euros. I had spent quite a bit of money and my mom was like: do you realize how much you spent?, quickly doing the math to guilders. That did make me go ‘oops’ but at the same time I thought: but I can afford it so why not?
With turning 18 came a whole new life: I went off to college and now had to pay rent, buy food and be pretty much self sufficient financially. As a student I didn’t have that much money. I had a job but that didn’t allow me to rake in the cash. In fact, I lived off a loan right from the start just to make ends meet and upped it so I could save up to study abroad. I remember having about 25 euros a month left for ‘fun things’ during fresh men year. I had to save up money to afford buying new clothes and worked extra hours over summer so I could buy a new computer.
After my study abroad I got my first ‘real’ job and that also brought in some extra cash. This coincided (probably not incidentally) with what I would like to call my ‘style revolution’. I spent my teens and early student years wearing boys’ clothes. My standard look: dungarees, combat boots and cropped hair which I dyed many different colors. With adulthood came an interest in clothes and later make up.
My interest in beauty and fashion in fact stems from my first couple of teaching jobs. When being accepted at my first teaching job I was literally told: you cannot wear that here. And they were right: I was teaching business people who came in straight from work in three piece suits and formal business attire. So teaching them in dungarees and combat boots doesn’t make you very credible. So I started to experiment with my style: I started wearing heels, skirts and blazers. I even added the occasional dress, which I had proclaimed impossible only a few years before. It’s when I discovered shopping for real.
Enter teaching job number two. I was still experimenting with my style, but I also became interested in make up after a colleague had begun wearing make up because it made her look more awake. I noticed the difference and decided to dabble around with it too. During job number 3, I rediscovered my love for all things nail polish (I had already been a major nail polish junky when I was 12) and that was where I came full circle.
However, that still doesn’t explain why I shop so much apart from the fact that experimenting comes with making mistakes and trying out new things. First all the: but I can afford it so why not- motto is still in place. Sure my budget has changed over the years and I set different priorities, but with a steady job comes a steady income and that gives me the means to stick to my motto while paying off my student loans and all of my other expenses at the same time. However, money isn’t the real reason why: it’s my body image.
I’ve never been skinny and I most certainly will never be, but I had only begun to feel comfortable in my own skin 2 – 3 years ago. It took a near burn out and losing nearly 30 pounds (or 15 kilos) to start that process and I feel that only now I’ve completed that. My life has changed quite a bit since I took on my new job and I can tell it’s a change for the better. I feel much more confident than I ever have. All the positive feedback that I get from students and colleagues must be part of that, but I can tell there’s more. I don’t know what that ‘more’ is exactly just yet, but I know that it all began when I decided to finally get my tattoo, which I had been wanting since I was 16 years old.
There is simply a part of me now that makes me do a double take in the mirror and think: hot damn! I’ve never had that before. I feel good and I like to express that good feeling and I do that by wearing clothes and make up that make me look and feel even better. My jobs allowed me to explore the opportunities there are within the worlds of beauty and fashion, but by losing weight and finding what must be self acceptance I finally have the means to make the most of those opportunities.
I work in an environment where people are looking at you continuously, so that’s why I try to put some effort into what I look like. Moreover, I feel I have worked hard and long to achieve what I have achieved in life so far and I am working on maintaining or exceeding that level on a daily basis. Shopping is also a way of celebrating that success. Add my need to stand out and be different from the rest, plus my dislike of being put in a box and you have the right concoction to create a shopaholic pur sang.
So no matter how many shoes, dresses or eyeshadow palettes I already own, there are always new ones to try and see if it fits my style. I can go from girly one day to tomboy the next and I like it and I like knowing that I can spend the money on being able to do so. Next time you see a shoplog I advise you to picture me in dungarees and combat boots and realize what a long way I’ve come to be me.
How do you celebrate being you?