When Shopping Goes Bad
I hate everyone. I just want to clear that up right now. I hate everyone and I’m not apologizing for it. I include myself in this group, so don’t assume I’m playing high and mighty. I hate everyone and they all deserve it, including me.
I went shopping today, and therefore I’m pissed off.
I get pissed off every time I go shopping. In truth I probably just didn’t eat a big enough breakfast to deal with the stress and chaos of shopping, but there is something about shopping that leads to fear, anger, and inevitably to despair.
Question: when did they stop making clothing for women and begin making clothing for men that they then slap some embroidery on and call “for women”? I thought real women had curves. And it’s not just because of the movie of that name. I am a woman. I have curves. That means that when I try on a pair of jeans they should go IN at the waist, not OUT. Not STRAIGHT UP. IN. Admittedly, there are probably some women who don’t curve in at the waist, but can I possibly be the only one whose ass is bigger than her waist? Seriously?
I recently lost some weight and am now in the position of having to replace my entire wardrobe. This is much more difficult than I thought it would be. Expense aside, it takes effort to put together a wardrobe that doesn’t look like it was picked randomly out of the neighborhood garbage and since I can never find more than one or two pieces at a time, I am required to go out most weekends to shop. And I. despise. it.
I always have such high hopes when I set out. Admittedly, I keep hoping I’ll find everything I need in one local store and then I’ll never have to go shopping again, but at the very least I can hope to find one or two things that seem to be pressing needs that week. Like pants that don’t fall down when I stand up. Seems like a good career move to have that in my wardrobe.
So I go out. I try clothing on. And then I begin to realize that there is something fundamentally wrong with our culture.
Seems like a big leap, doesn’t it? But follow me: I go shopping. I see a bunch of dead-eyed people endlessly milling around shops, and letting their souls get sucked out by mother culture. As I progress through my shopping trip I feel myself becoming like them – or rather, the illusion that I’m not like them gets stripped away.
While the need to be clothed is understandable, especially to protect yourself from the elements, the need to “look your best” is a little more mysterious. If I am an enlightened, self-aware being then why do I care what other people think of how I look? Granted, I may not be an enlightened and self-aware being. Maybe I’m just horribly, horribly vain and that’s where all this stress comes from. In reality I suppose I should just buy whatever pants fit my thunder thighs and then slap a belt on. Or better yet, keep all the ill-fitting clothing I already own and safety-pin them so they don’t fall down (most of them lack belt-loops).
The dance of destruction we know as “shopping” all comes down to what other people think, does it not? You FEEL your best when you LOOK your best. And how do most people know when they look their best? Other people tell them.
I tend to get upset when people compliment me. At 34 years old I've learned to smile tightly and saying “thank you” when I receive a compliment because most people consider it rude to have their casual “you look nice today” thrown back in their face with a dirty look and an angry “are you mocking me”?
Compliments are an insult to me, to my intelligence, and to all mankind. You may question me and my intelligence but I’m not exaggerating when I say all mankind. Compliments are simply another means to perpetuate mother culture. Positive reinforcement is used to train dogs and children in the proper way to behave. Wear these pants with these shoes and God Forbid you should ever wear colored stockings with a sleeveless top. You look mahhhvelous, dahling!
There are rules to the way we dress, just as there are rules about the way we are supposed to eat, the way we are supposed to groom ourselves, the way we behave in certain settings and oh so very much more. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes these rules are necessary and useful. How would it be if we all just drove all over the road however we wanted to? But I feel trapped by these rules, and weighted down. This is why I don’t go swimming: I’ll sink like a stone.
Make no mistake about it; the reason I’m upset right now is not because I’m a revolutionary and I alone thwart society with my rebel ways. I’m upset for precisely the opposite reason. It’s not even so much that I see how society should be, and isn’t. I have NO answers. I can offer no alternatives. I, myself, perpetuate the rules of society and I hate myself for it. And I hate all of you, too.
So you see here how one shopping trip can turn into a long bout of existential angst. The best I can do is come home and fix myself a nice cup of tea or a straight shot of bourbon (or gasoline, or whatever is handy) and try to calm down. This angst is always there. There is no escape. There are times when I can shove it all down into the oubliette that I laughingly call a soul, but it sits there waiting for the next shameful, humiliating “compliment” to resurrect itself and devastate me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch America’s Next Top Model.