Oh, the power that sounds, smells and taste have to transport us back in time!
I know it is not a new idea, Proust spoke of involuntary memories before me, but this week I have felt their power very viscerally. The rain has brought me back to autumn of 2008 and reminded me of who I was back then.
I lived in Brussels. I was doing an internship at a large NGO. I did not speak any French. I knew that my stay in the country was not going to last more than the planned six months. I had no friends there. I spent a lot of time alone in my tiny studio drawing and watching HBO comedy specials. I also walked a lot and took photos. And I bought a lot of fast fashion.
It was a ritual, especially on Fridays, if I remember correctly, but also on other days as all my afternoons were very similar. It passed through H&M, through C&A, through Claire’s, through Calzedonia. Through several different H&M, as each had something different. And I brought a little dress, a bra, a scarf, a bag, a pair of stockings, a pair of earrings. A lot of silly earrings. And, since it was raining, a pair beautiful
rubber plastic boots, with horses painted on them, and a very cute polka-dot umbrella with ruffles. Also, I would often buy something similar again within a couple of weeks because the previous one had already fallen apart.
My silly earring collection as of December 2008:
Yes, I had arrived in the summer with only one suitcase and didn’t have many things. But I don’t recall these purchases as necessities, i.e., “I’m cold, I need a sweater.” No, they were ritualistic, to pass the time, to look, to touch and to acquire things. The dynamic was similar to browsing shops just for fun with friends as a teenager but now I was alone and had money to spend. Not too much, but enough for H&M.
It was also to share a space with other people beyond my co-workers and to use my few French phrase, limited to hello, thank you, I will pay with the card and, no, I need the bag, goodbye. A minimal social experience with well defined roles and no surprises.
My love story with fast fashion was not new at that point and was still going to last a few more years, but that was the last time when I needed shopping to fill a black hole inside me that I was not even aware of.
With the distance of time, I think it was a compensatory behavior seeking out those little dopamine kicks that I was not getting in other aspects of my life: my immediate future was completely uncertain, I was disappointed with the industry to which I had thought to dedicate my professional life , the city where I resided did not quite welcome me, and my romantic life was a sad chaos. Retail therapy made all the sense in the world.
Although my experience was a low intensity one (in fact, I think that the low intensity of that life was one of the problems), I see echoes of that dynamic in this essay: I’ll Take Care of You. And the main idea of Nona Willis Aronowitz’s testimony is not something new either, we know very well that spending money on self-gifts counts as self-care not only because “you deserve it” works very well as a marketing strategy for unnecessary things but also because acquisitions relieve some pain for some time.
In fact, I had already written a post on the urgency to acquire four years ago – The urge to acquire – which is a meditation on the less explicable “I have to buy this” moments, but now the smell of rain brought me the desire to go into a store to just be with people.
Intercambio de ropa Green Saturday o Vermutet & Wardrobe Restart XVI | 27 de noviembre 11:00 – 14:00 en Ateneu Roig, Torrent d’En Vidalet 32, Barcelona.
Taller de visión del armario perfecto con collage | 19 de enero en Centre Cívic Trinitat Vella – Espai Foradada, Foradada 36, Barcelona.
Intercambio de ropa | 22 de enero en Centre Cívic Trinitat Vella – Espai Foradada, Foradada 36, Barcelona.
Para establecer unas bases cuando pensamos en los residuos: [Podcast] 1. Cómo funciona el reciclaje en España con Alberto Vizcaíno + [Podcast] 7. Reciclaje, incineración y gestión de residuos con Fernando Follos.
Black Friday, Green Friday y otros dilemas alrededor de las estrategias de consumo y no-consumo durante la gran fiesta anual de ofertones imperdibles.
Obviamente, la dieta mediterránea no puede seguir siendo ésto: La acuicultura, devoradora de océanos.
A more serious analysis of consumerism as self-care that Nona Willis Aronowitz mentions: How ‘Treat Yourself’ Became a Capitalist Command.
When both Samantha Bee and Mina Le are talking about the same? Well, there might be something there: How Celebrities Perpetuate the False (and Dangerous!) Myth of Anti-Aging + The problem with plastic surgery + The Age of Instagram Face + Brazilian Butt Lifts Surge, Despite Risks. Also, I turn out to be incredibly naive when it comes to the beauty industry…
Remember that “made in” tags only reflect the last stop in the assembly chain: New Balance is Running Afoul of “Made in U.S.” Labeling Law, According to a Newly-Filed Watchdog Complaint.
And that’s it for this week! I hope that you enjoyed reading and would be very happy to hear from you, regarding shopping driven by emotion needs or anything else… in the comments below, via Facebook or Instagram, or via e-mail at luize.ratniece [a] gmail .com
Guardarrr is a weekly bilingual newsletter dedicated to sustainability and mindfulness in fashion. It is written by Luīze Ratniece, a sociologist and textile activist based in Barcelona. Guardarrr is both a tool for reflection and a crowdfunding channel for the wardrobe tracking app that Luīze is building. If you read this newsletter and value it, please consider going to the paid version to fund this project for a monthly equivalent of a coffee + pastry. Each subscription warms my heart immensely and helps going on, thank you so much for being here with me!