I went to a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner last night, hosted by my college. I sat with good friends, ate good food, and had the chance to rest my feet after a long day.

Why was my day long? Because I spent three and a half hours that afternoon waiting in line to get a book signed for Broseph for Christmas. David Attenborough, a family hero, was doing a signing in Waterstone’s. When I found out, of course I had to go.

-1The queue went all the way around the block.

I lined up around 2:20. I finally got to shake Sir David’s hand around 5:45. I couldn’t feel my feet, but it was worth it, because I know how happy the book will make my brother.


I’m thinking about this today because in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving is a holiday all on its own. Black Friday is the day on which people officially start their Christmas shopping, and sometimes die in the process. It often involves standing in long lines like the one I was in yesterday, to get things for either for yourself or for a loved one.

And now it has bled over to England. There are in-store and online sales everywhere. In some ways, that’s nice – it means I got to buy something I’d been eying at a 47% discount. But it also disturbs me, because the very idea of “shopping” disturbs me. And I don’t say this as a pious minimalist. I say this as someone who is wearing a scarf, jumper, scrunchie, and headband she has all bought within the last month.

Photo on 11-28-14 at 11.06 AMCute and disgusting.

I suppose that’s why shopping scares me. I don’t like the knowledge that I am contributing to global waste and consumerism, and yet, it is a fact of my life. Why? Because every few months, I am offered a new model of “pretty”  and told to buy according to that model, so that I can be “pretty,” too.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be beautiful. And I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with buying things. But I have a problem with recreational spending, and with buying things to satisfy some inner need to feel beautiful. Because I realize that’s what I do – I feel bad about myself, or I have an occasion for which I want to look cute. So I buy a new lipstick, or jumper, or formal dress. But at the end of the day, with all my new baubles, do I really look that much better than I did before? Do I really feel that much better about myself?

No. I don’t.

This is something that ties intrinsically to my religious beliefs (and if that makes you uncomfortable, then I’m sorry! Please keep reading). My religion tells me that all people are equal, regardless of how they look, or how much they own. In fact, it tells me that those of us who own less, who share more, and who don’t care as much their appearances are living a better life. And I can believe that, because I see it in myself. I feel better when I don’t tell myself I need things to be beautiful. I was created the way I am for a reason, and the people who love me, love me no matter what I’m wearing. They love me with my makeup on or off. They love me with or without curls in my hair or pinch of pink on my cheeks. And that’s how I should love myself.

So this Black Friday, I am making a deal with myself. For the next three months, until March 1, I will not shop for myself – not even “window shopping,” online or off. I will not buy myself any new clothes, jewelry, accessories, or make-up. The exception is necessities like medicine, and things that I truly need for school, like a textbook or paper.

I have absolutely no judgment for people who like to buy things for themselves to feel beautiful. I only realized that I am living in excess, and that that conflicts with my values, and that if I can’t relate to something in a healthy way, then I should step back from it. I don’t issue this challenge to anyone else, but if it inspires you at all, feel free to try it with me!

I know that three months is not terribly long, but I am hoping that starting with a small goal will help me work up to longer stretches of time. More than that, I hope it affects a change within me – and makes me realize on a subconscious level that I truly don’t need anything to be beautiful, valuable, or worthy.

Sara Laughed

Hey hey! I'm Sara, an American writer living in the Netherlands and working as a product manager.

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