Femininity and Consumerism

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Shoe obsessions. Purse collections. Homes carefully decorated with curated furniture. Counter-tops strewn with make-up, nail polish, hair products, and lotions. Perfume-soaked magazines plump with clothes to buy and styles to emulate. In America, we equate femininity with consumerism. It’s well known that advertisers build upon our insecurities–and oftentimes invent new ones for us–and then offer products proclaiming to fix them. They promise to mold us into the womanly ideal; photo-shopped, airbrushed, and unattainable. When their products don’t produce the desired results (because no one actually looks like that), we blame ourselves, feel even worse, and buy more products, and the cycle continues. Many people are well aware of this marketing process, and, yet, even with that knowledge, it’s incredibly difficult to escape.

On top of marketers telling us we aren’t good enough, the generally accepted definition of femininity is simply stifling. Of course there are many women who defy this 1950’s-bred standard, but, for the most part, to be considered feminine, one must place high importance on appearance. Women who do so usually develop consumerist tendencies to pursue the ideal. Although we are all consumers, there is a delicate threshold between buying products that satisfy real needs (including, yes, even aesthetic desires) and purchasing goods in excess. This line is not always clear. Perhaps we should buy what makes us happy rather than what marketers tell us we should want. Even then, sometimes marketers convince us that certain things will make us happy when they really won’t. In that case, we need to reconnect with–well, with ourselves. That way, we we’ll avoid the environmental (and emotional) destruction of overindulgence, and we’ll free the feminine ideal from its current consumerist oppression. Just remember: women were once associated with the sacred, fertile energy of the Earth, the regeneration of the seasons, and the breath of life, rather than with shoes, clothes, and make-up.

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