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Shopping is not a leisure activity

07 Aug 2006 / 0 Comments / in going off on one

Shopping is meaningless and dull. Since when did it become a leisure activity? I’m sure I’m not the only one to think the world has gone mad in this respect. Where is the fun in traipsing around shops with zillions of other people looking for things to spend my hard-earned money on that I had no previous intention of buying?

I accept that every few weeks I have no choice but to go to the supermarket. This great chore is made slightly more interesting since I have discovered the danger and thrills of speed-shopping. This entails Moth scampering after me with a trolley as I sprint round the store throwing items into it. It is the nearest thing I have to doing sport as it requires stamina, physical courage, mental agility and accuracy of aim.

But going to a shopping mall to look round the shops on a Saturday never happens in my world. If I need to buy something, like a new paintbrush or a pair of shoes, I save up and then go into a shop and buy them. As I work in town I can do this fast at lunchtime. It’s something I have to do sometimes. It’s not something I have ever considered to be fun or leisure or pleasure or rewarding.

I’m proud that I’ve never been to IKEA.
Last week I was talking with some women friends. They were surprised to hear that I’d never been into IKEA in my life and that I have no desire to do so. I already have a house full of the things I need. They were astonished.

One of them said: “but you can look at all the nice things!” Another said: “you can go to Ikea not intending to buy anything and come out with £50′s worth of lovely stuff you didn’t know you needed” as if it was a good thing! I don’t see how buying stuff I don’t really need can be a pleasurable activity.Possession of things and the process of acquiring stuff holds no thrill for me. Perhaps this is why I am lucky enough to have never been in debt*. I don’t know why women (and I think it is mostly women) consider shopping to be a leisure activity. Are they really that bored?

Are my sisters really too busy cleaning, cooking and beautifying themselves to do anything other than shop for more things to cleanse and beautify themselves, their families and their homes? Because of the arduous constraints of raising a family, women have little enough leisure time as it is. So why waste that precious time shopping? Why not go fishing, write more blogs, play netball, play music, take up photography, join an amateur drama company, make birthday cards, take the kids to a museum, fix up old cars, learn to paint, make sculpture using junk, campaign for social justice, do some work for a charity? If you’re a woman who loves shopping, please explain to me why it’s so appealing! I need to understand.

I reckon we’ve been had! Advertisers, the media and our capitalist society all tell us that we have to have toilets clean enough to drink from, we have to look fantastic and sexually available at all times, and that buying pointless fragranced candles and fitting patio lighting will some how enrich us. It’s our duty to buy this crap to keep the economy buoyant. Bullshit!

Another pointless shopping trip for Paris Hilton. Yawn!
Women who manage on low incomes (I’ve been there myself) are particularly vulnerable to being had in this way. Some may feel that if they could buy more things, especially expensive-looking things, they might somehow attain greater status or feel better about themselves. And women who have pots of money would do well to spend less on pointless shopping trips. When footballers’ wives and women like Paris Hilton – what is she for?! – are seen in the papers every week photographed on shopping spree after shopping spree some might think – ‘hey! That must be fun!’ Grrrr! Can’t they do anything more constructive and meaningful with their lives and set a better example to people, especially young people? Surely consuming LESS stuff is what we should aspire to…

So I say to all my shop-a-holic sisters: your house is almost certainly not a dangerous bacterial soup, you look just fine exactly as you are and let your family make their own dinner for a change (babies excepted). Why not try something for you own benefit, rather than for the shareholder of retail outlets, that brings real meaning and reward to you and the lives of others? Oooh, and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t!

*apart from a mortgage…

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