Let’s talk about money, honey: lingerie retail therapy

Content notice: this post will talk about poor mental health & self harm

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Online shopping is great for me with my neurological disabilities

I am mentally ill. I take meds, I’ve spent time in psychiatric hospitals, I’ve self-harmed in a myriad of ways, I have had years of suicide ideation, I dissociate, I have blacked out weeks at a time.

Like many people, one coping behavior I have when I’m struggling with my own mind is retail therapy. I’m mostly pretty frugal (I don’t currently work, and when I did I earned very little), but a few times a year I’ll have spending sprees. I’ll cross the line, blur my limits. Shopping becomes a compulsion. I never make any single huge purchases, but rather many smaller purchases which, while totally reasonable in isolation, quickly add up. I don’t buy a new laptop or an iPhone or a designer handbag; I buy a couple of books from my wishlist and little bits and pieces for my home and a nice jigsaw puzzle and much-needed new shoes and nail varnish and a dress and art supplies slightly spendy lipstick and, well, underwear. Obviously underwear. Underwear is especially tied up to my mental wellbeing, to self expression and body confidence and acceptance of my sick, painful, broken body.

Buying all these things does make me feel better, and does help to make my life nicer. But honestly, I can’t afford it. I shouldn’t spend so much. I don’t have the money. But I deserve a treat, don’t I? YOLO. My life is difficult right now and if something cheers me up, it’s worth it. And that really is ok, I think. There is so much societal moral value tied up to spending money – especially on “frivolous”, feminine-coded products – and I want to move away from that kind of thinking. Spending money is ok. You’re allowed. You’re even allowed to buy an expensive lipstick, if you want! It’s even ok if you love communism and would ideally live in a moneyless society! You are not a bad person for spending money. But when spending becomes a compulsion, when I lose control, when I’ve reached my credit limit, then it’s a problem for me.

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A credit card is necessary for many online shops, especially internationally, but makes resisting temptation difficult

I’ve recently realised that the compulsion driving this when it gets particularly bad is the same feeling as when I self harm, and there is the same cycle of compulsion > action > relief > guilt > compulsion. Harming my body makes me feel bad about myself, which I then relieve by harming my body; overspending makes me feel bad about myself, which I then relieve by overspending. It’s the same kind of spiral.

Toward the end of last year, I felt this spiral coming on. I overspent in the sales. At the same time, my benefits stopped, finances got even tighter. I implemented my January spending ban. I managed it, and was proud. Then came February and my birthday and I wanted to treat myself. But it quickly spiraled out of control. I lost perspective and rationality. I kept on spending. As I said above, not just lingerie, but lots of it. Compulsion, compulsion, compulsion.

Yesterday I reached my credit limit. It’s a relatively low limit – in the hundreds rather than the thousands – and one that I will be able to pay off quickly by keeping my purse closed for a few months. In a way, it’s a relief. An externally imposed limit. I can stop now. I have to stop now. It’s literally impossible to make any more purchases.

Still, it’s hard. There are constantly sales. Constantly beautiful new pieces from my favourite designers. Sample sales from designers I’ve only just discovered & could never afford otherwise. The lingerie community on twitter and instagram, constantly posting pictures of dreamy underwear. It’s hard to see fellow bloggers – and other fashion/lifestyle bloggers – posting their newest acquisition, their shopping hauls, while holding myself to much stricter limits than they seem to have. But I have to remind myself that social media presents a distorted image of the reality, like looking at the lives of others through a water-filled glass. I don’t know their circumstances, but most are surely not the same as mine. Maybe they work full time, maybe they have a rich partner or parents, maybe most of what they review is free PR samples, maybe they are just ordering things to post before returning, maybe they don’t actually buy that much and saved and budgeted, maybe they are deep in debt.

I don’t want to drop off social media to avoid temptation. I want to get back to my normal, to being able to see nice things and just add them to my wishlist, be content with just sharing them and saying wow, isn’t this nice, look it this! without having to buy anything, apart from once in a while, when I can afford it. I know I’ll find support from my fellow bloggers. And I’m working on it.

 

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3 thoughts on “Let’s talk about money, honey: lingerie retail therapy

  1. Thought-provoking article. I do sometimes wonder how my own spending comes across on my blog, because I am constantly reviewing new things. I feel like I read as much richer than I am!

    I do have a tendency to spend more than I can really afford on lingerie – lots and lots of impulsive sale purchases – and it’s one of my goals this year to buy less but to buy what I really love. In January I worked out what I spent on lingerie in 2015 – roughly 10% of my post-tax salary, which sounds like a lot. But what I don’t mention on my blog is that lingerie is *all* I buy. I don’t eat out, I don’t go out to clubs/bars, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t have any expensive hobbies (just my sewing!), and when I go on holiday we always stay with family abroad so there are no hotel/dining out expenses, just the flights. And we use airmiles for those. So I certainly buy more lingerie than most people, but overall I don’t think I spend any more than most people do on leisure, I just choose knickers over visiting the cinema or having the latest phone or whatever 😉

    Congratulations on sticking to your January spending ban by the way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good points in this article. I have to say that I’m not rich person, nor my partner and I’m not spoiled by my parents – they even don’t know I’m big lingerie lover. And even if they will have more money I know they won’t be happy to spend 40 Euro for a pair of AP knickers. I have every now and then very good months – we both are freelancers – and then I’m happy to buy some nice lingerie. Mostly buying during SALES, and to be honest only a few times I bought in a full price. Same with my partner, when he have money he is more than happy to treat me with some gorgeous lingerie.
    And yes, every now and then I get a free lingerie from some brands who were very happy to be featured on my website. That’s very nice of them. Some sort of “Thank you” which I really appreciate.

    Recently for our winter shoots we actually were in touch with a good few brands and asked them to send the samples of particular items which we were interested in, to style those six looks (one still to go, and AP ‘Ariel’ is not included!). Will do it again for sure later this year. My collection of lingerie is limited and that’s one of the reason why we have no new features for good few weeks. There is of course other reasons like: moving house, moving country, no time or just no place where we could do good photo shoot. Not everything is possible to shoot in house and for free.

    When I’m scrolling down IG wall and checking some popular lingerie profiles there I ask myself “How they can afford all this luxurious, top end, very expensive lingerie”? When I see someone posting day after day after day AP’s Soiree items I’m actually speechless. It’s a little fortune to afford 4-5 of this items. But there seems to be endless chain of luxury outfits from top labels.

    I have my endless wishlist as we all have (right?) and step by step some of the items appearing in my collection, because I bought or got them as a gift. Anyway, it’s good to keep going what we all do and never be too distracted by others. I don’t think I could ever afford mostly of this expensive lingerie but it doesn’t matter…. I’m proud of my website and happy to have all the gorgeous lingerie I have. And wearing it is just priceless feeling. But we all know that feeling very well.

    All the best for you lovely lady and thanks for such an article.

    M

    Liked by 1 person

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