When did we become such consumers? When I was growing up, no matter what was going on in the world, good times, bad times, I saw women wearing makeup. It was a sure bet that they would give up everything else, but they wouldn’t give up their makeup.
During World War II, when nylon stockings couldn’t be found, women painted a line up the back of their legs to make it look like they were wearing stockings.
In those days, stockings came with a seam up the back of the legs, so if nylons were being rationed and you wanted to look like the privileged few, you drew a line up the back of your legs to make it look like you were wearing stockings with a seam. I always used to wonder who drew the lines because you couldn’t reach it by yourself and most women had crooked lines, or crooked seams.
I don’t remember much about the need to keep up with the Joneses; that came later, but I do remember we were satisfied more easily with what we had. I don’t recall terms like retail therapy; that seemed to come much later when women shopped more, spent more, and were less satisfied.
Nowadays, it doesn’t seem to matter how much we have, we always seem to want more, yet this need for more is like a black pit, growing wider and wider and never filling us up with contentment.
Why don’t we reach a saturation point where we look at our belongings and think to ourselves that enough is enough? Why do we keep looking for bigger houses to store our “stuff” instead of getting rid of what we don’t need or haven’t used in a long time?
It’s almost as if we have a consumer tapeworm inside of us, eating away at us, causing us pain and anxiety, and we haven’t found a cure for it. In fact, we don’t seem to want to find a cure for it; we seem to want to suffer in silence and let this consumer tapeworm take over our lives.
I don’t know what it will take to break this cycle but I do know that, like someone gorging on food at a banquet, you can only stuff yourself so much, and then something has to give. It’s just a question of when we’ll reach that point, not if we’ll reach it.