"Chanel is definitely my favorite designer," she says, emerging from the dressing room, unvictorious. She adds that her most prized purse is a black Yves Saint Laurent Muse bag, which sells for about $1,200. Her best friend, 14-year-old Jennifer Hourani, prefers her Chloé Paddington bag. But today, Jennifer is carrying a pristine white leather Dolce & Gabbana tote (it was shelved after Labor Day).As an old hippie, hearing this made me want to tear off my fringed suede vest and whip someone with it.
Don't get me wrong. I understand teen object lust. When I was that age, I was dying for a wide skateboard with Sims Pure Juice wheels and Bennett trucks and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt, for no reason beyond that my junior crush, the totally rad and awesome Van Lanning had them.
When my mom misunderstood my VERY clear instructions and got me a plastic skateboard and an Eagles t-shirt instead, I couldn't believe my misfortune. I barely survived the shame.
But it has gotten SO much worse, hasn't it? And somebody has to tell kids these days the truth. It might as well be cranky old Aunt Suebob on her blog, right?
1. There is nothing wrong with owning nice stuff. If you find a handbag that is made by hand by an Italian craftsman who has been studying handbag making for 40 years and who finds a quality piece of leather that comes along maybe once a year and he spends months carefully constructing the most precisely made handbag you have ever seen, feel free to pay $10k for it, if you have the cash. If it is that amazing, it is worth it. What ISN'T worth it is paying $10k for something that you could get for $500 - just because it has a brand name that other people drool over.
2. Materialism is a losing game. There's never enough stuff to satisfy the beast within. It's always something else that you truly want, need, desire.
3. Sacrificing one minute of love and laughter for stuff isn't worth it, IMO.
4. If you have the kind of friends who put you down because you don't own the right brands, you don't have friends. You have that bitch Stacy from "What Not to Wear."
5. If you get addicted to luxury brands when someone else is paying for them, how are you gonna feed your habit when you grow up? Keep depending on the folks?
Or will you find someone else to pay the bills - a spouse or spouse substitute. Is it them, or is it their money you love? If they are paying, you have to dance to their tune. Are you ok with that?
Or you can support your own habit. You may have to take a job you don't like as much as your dream job. You may have to do things you don't like doing. You may have to work long hours, move to somewhere you don't want to live - all so you can keep yourself in $1,200 purses. How far are you willing to go?
Thanks to credit cards, you can always go into debt. I know several people who were bankrupt by age 30 because they needed nice stuff. Is that what you want?
Or maybe you will get lucky. You will get the the perfect job, the perfect soulmate who happens to make a pile of money, and you will always have more than you could ever desire, effortlessly. Good luck with that.
6. If you judge your worth by the brands you wear, what does that say about you? Is there something empty inside you that you are slapping a brand logo over? Just asking.
7. Personally, I think that living within your means feels so good that there is little that could tempt me out of it. But I've been down, way down, so I know how it feels to have bills you can't pay and bill collectors calling you. Trust me, you're not gonna like it.
8. In a world where half the people live on less than $1 PER DAY, can you really justify your $1,200 purse? Wouldn't you rather provide six families with home lighting, so they can change their lives than carry a $1,200 purse? Or you could get a $200 purse and supply five families. When your stuck-up friends ask "What is with that purse?" you can show them photos of those smiling people who have lights to work and socialize and study by and say "I truly made life better for these five families. What have YOU done lately?"
9. If my child thought that her beauty, her value, her worth, came from wearing the right brands, I would be heartbroken. As a parent, isn't one of your jobs to let your children know that their value comes from within?
Ok, that's my lecture. Do you have any stories of silly things you have done for material goods?