”It seems we living the American dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem.”
As Kanye once stated; back when he used to rap about meaningful issues. Before he progressed to make a song about a gold digger and then marry one. Anyway that’s an issue for discussion another day.
Although he is directly referring to the hypocrisy of the ”American dream”, the capitalistic mentality so deeply regimented into American society is very much parallel to here in the UK. What he is implying is that the people who have it all in terms of material goods, those who are ”rich”. Are only thought of as rich in a capitalist society. They buy things in order to make themselves feel better, to hide insecurities. And, perhaps an addiction to retail stems from insecurity.
No-one can deny Kanye’s point. We’ve all been there. Sitting in your bedroom alone on a Saturday night, maybe things in your life aren’t going fantastically. You feel slightly down, but guess what. Buying that gorgeous pair of Kurt Geiger stiletto’s will make you feel better. It will uplift you, the products themselves may even give you confidence when wearing them. But they won’t fix your problems.
When it comes to consumerist culture there is a lot of overlap from all industries; however I feel the fashion industry is often a target for being a representation of capitalism. It’s true that how you dress and what you wear is often viewed as a representation of character; and people will, no doubt judge you for it. You can make so many assumptions based on what someone is wearing. I think particularly as females in western society its almost too easy to be influenced. For example, if you see a girl wearing beaten down converses; you’d probably assume she’s a relaxed, down to earth girl. Probably the kinda girl you can go for long walks to the park with, and doesn’t care too much for her appearance. On the other hand if you see a pristine looking female wearing 11 inch red bottoms – which you know are worth at least £500 -you’ll be staring in awe. She’s that girl. She’s the bitch you love to hate, you want to know her, you want to be in her position. Heck, you just want to be her.
It’s wrong to make these assumptions, and they can often be false. But the stereotypes and the connotations exist nevertheless. And they are one of the reasons we all strive to have a wardrobe brimming with designer names.
But I have a huge criticism of this theory; and I have a problem with accepting that everyone who wants to wear designer brands is a shallow narcissistic materialistic airhead. It isn’t true. Perhaps, quality matters. Maybe just maybe instead of buying a £10 Primark bag which will probably disintegrate after six weeks, or investing in a £350 Louis Vuitton bag which will last you years upon years, is actually a wise investment. I’ll give you a real life example. I drove a Ford KA the other day; aside from the fact I almost crashed it because of the sheer inefficiency of the brakes (still passed it’s MOT though, god knows how), it felt like there was no power steering. Such a tiny car, and yet so difficult to manoeuvre. It felt like moving a tank. I’m used to the drive of my BMW, all cars will get you from a to b. But it’s 2015, you can’t be driving without adequate power steering, to me this is dangerous. It’s not even a matter of taste or preference, I’m pretty sure everyone when driving needs to feel comfortable and confident in the piece of machinery they are moving. It is an offensive weapon at the end of the day. Point being that it doesn’t make me a snob because I prefer my BMW. It’s better in every aspect. Why wouldn’t you prefer it?
Infact, we needn’t even justify our decisions to buy quality. Maybe we just like nice things. And maybe we don’t value these nice things more then, say, spending quality time with family or loyalty or trust.
Maybe it’s just surface value, and maybe judging based on surface value makes you as superficial as the people you assumed were superficial.
Retail addiction is real, I suffer from it also. And I do think I genuinely need help. I can’t even go into Sainsbury’s for food shopping without buying some unnecessary items; usually make-up related. *shake my head*. But, on the other hand having an addiction to buying things isn’t harming anyone. Everyone has their own fixations; and unlike smoking which will turn your lungs black and give you nasty cat-bum mouth, and alcohol which will ruin your liver, and probably your libido. Shopping doesn’t harm you or your body. Beware to the harm it may do to your bank account though.
These examples are microcosms of society at large. But the even bigger problem I have is that we keep blaming capitalism. Who is capitalism? Capitalism is merely a political structure, an ideology. Yes I agree there are several faults, and hypocrisies within a capitalistic structure. To the point that I identify almost 99% with Marxism when it comes to political social views.
Capitalism is naturally criminogenic, within an economic context it also breeds monopoly. This is what we have within the media industry, and indeed the fashion industry, and probably every other industry in the western societies. But monopolisation is a man-made concept. It stems from greed. And greed is a human trait. We’ve gotta stop blaming the system, and actually consider the fact that what feasible alternatives are there to capitalism? We are all criticising it, but we haven’t thought of any realistic alternatives in the meantime.
There’s always communism, but you only have to look at the state of Russia to see how that works. Yeaaaah, no way. Communism does not progress, it causes society to become stagnant. It’s a wonderful idea on paper. Everyone is equal, we are all going to share everything equally. It sounds like something sickly Ned Flaunders would come up with. But it does not work in real life context.
Until we find an acceptable alternative (if we ever do); which I doubt will ever happen because capitalism works for the industrialists. It works for corrupt politicians. It works for the royal family. Infact, it works for all the elite. But, next time your about to judge someone for wearing Jimmy Choo shoes instead of New look heels. Think again, because we have brains. And we aren’t drones to capitalism. Each and everyone of us is responsible for how we act, we have free will. And we gotta stop blaming capitalism for everything. But I really could do with a new Chanel bag. Can’t be seen in last seasons designs can I?