The Shopping Diet (circa 2005)

I must confess the piece below was actually written over 10 years ago! and I do feel embarrassed about the frivolousness of this topic, but I thought I’d post it anyway! I am quite sure some of you will still relate to it, as the theme of being happy with what I have still has relevance to me today.

I have long believed that shopping centres are the root of all evil.
I do however have a love-hate relationship with my local Mall, and despite preaching that it is the mecca for empty souls, I end up going there anyway! If I am feeling strong in my-self a cheeky window shop and a coffee can be a little nice outing. On other days, when I am feeling a little more sensitive those places drain my energy quick. I can’t help but notice all the unrealistic advertising imagery, the brain-washed people queuing for a designer things, and all the mums with their prams walking around in circles looking for stuff to buy.
I think we need to be aware of acquiring material things to make us feel good, I won’t shop to make myself feel better anymore, I am very aware of that now. I think there can be a confusing message in some spiritual theories about renouncing material possessions and not being attached to things. I believe now that there is enough in this world for everyone to live abundantly if we could just get the balance right. That acquiring possessions and adorning oneself if done from a place gratitude and appreciation is a lovely thing to do.
I have a fascination with beautiful clothing and this is partly due to being a sewer, having made lots of my own clothes over the years. I view the process of dressing up as such a fun form of self-expression. I adore fabrics, the texture, the prints, I value that someone has focused their creativity to produce a garment, as a piece of art.

& as Coco Chanel said, life’s too short for bad clothes………

I do now have a rule. I only buy things that I really love and although this article is about breaking the cycle of wanting, I can separate shopping within my means, from compulsive buying….So all in all the ‘Shopping Diet’ worked!

The Shopping Diet

I’ve decided to go on a diet, a diet not unlike the Paleo, Atkins, or Cabbage soup diet. I will follow a strict plan, I will be regimented and plan ahead. My willpower will be put to the test; my days will be spent detoxing, and fine tuning my choices, and the excess I don’t need will just melt away. Now what I am about to embark upon isn’t a weight loss diet, it’s a shopping diet.

The guidelines are quite simple, I am not to buy anything unnecessary for a whole month.
That’s right a whole month, no clothes no makeup, no one-off hand painted silk scarves from the Sunday market, even though I’ll never see anything like it again! (this is going to be hard.) I will become more aware when I shop and conscious of the purchases I make. This means if my face wash runs out then I’m allowed to replace it. However my underwear is unraveling at the seams, I’m sick and tired of my winter clothes, my sunglasses are bent and my boots falling apart. None of these things count, they do not qualify as essential purchases, I will make do with what I have, and be happy with that.
Now food is a vital daily requirement, but that doesn’t mean that I can get my shopping fix by buying decadent amounts of gourmet deli treats, imported chocolates and organic bottles of wine. Even though these goodies would soothe me as I withdraw, these luxuries are not allowed.
A month is actually quite a long time to restrict my shopping calories. I buy stuff every week – just little things, some junky costume jewellery here, a lipstick there, a pair of stockings, some new cheap moisturizer, all just because they are on sale. But it is these little things that are adding to the clutter I am slowly collecting. I seem to have bought the same grey top three times over. My partner accused me of chipping away at money like someone whittling away at a stick. These twenty and thirty dollar purchases chip, chip chipping away at the money I earn.
I’ll always stop and consider an eighty to one hundred dollar purchase, but throw myself straight in if it’s under thirty dollars and I’ll do that three times a week? I would be better off purchasing a quality indulgence than frittering away money on less than fabulous things.
My  choices are clogging the arteries of my wardrobe, clothes still complete with tags hang unworn for month as nothing matches. Like all those ab-swings you see, covered in cobwebs discarded on the nature strip, I will no longer buy things that seem like a good idea at the time.

This cleanse will refine my taste buds, my addiction to that sweet, cheap fix, will be broken. They say you will feel more satisfied if you enjoy a fine piece of expensive chocolate, than gorging on a whole block of the cheap stuff. We are bombarded every day by images of beautiful clothes, furniture & cosmetics it is impossible not to want, but when the wanting never ends it is far from a healthy mindset.

The first few weeks are a breeze, every time I catch myself about open my purse for something that catches my eye I resist. I leave the shop feeling triumphant, in control, and more equipped to refuse the next temptation.
The test comes on one of those long days, just like when that four o’clock energy slump hits and that blueberry muffin calls your name, I start to crave something new, oh to buy a new outfit! This is when I would usually chase a heady retail hit.
So this week several times I turn and walk away from the shops. The feeling passes just like any other craving and I’m happy again, elated! I think I’m starting to get a ‘no shopping high’.

By week two I am starting to reinvent outfits I haven’t worn for so long. I become more creative with what I wear, putting things together I had never coordinated before. I begin to see all my possessions with a new sense of gratitude and appreciation. I have so much and own so many beautiful things, I don’t need anything more.
I worry that when I get a taste again I will binge like a deprived dieter, gorging like never before, undoing all my good work. This is not the case, as now after my four weeks of discipline, just like when you change your eating habits I’m not attracted to junk anymore.
I’m more interested in enjoying a wholesome window shop, or spending my time in a more fulfilling environment, than Sunday mass at the shopping mall.

I don’t think I’ve completely renounced the modern day religion of material pleasure; my devotion to the god of shoes is far too powerful to forsake. However just for now, I am enjoying a fuller purse, a deeply satisfied appetite, and a leaner wastage line. You too should try it, you truly have nothing to lose.