Fashion Magazines: Do They Contribute to Materialism?

by August 5, 2013
filed under Activism

Materialism can be defined as “a doctrine [where] . . . only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress (Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online). I think that materialism is something that we, as a culture, need to be aware of. It can be okay, even useful, to have items out of want rather than necessity if you can afford them but often we place so much value on the collecting of “stuff” that we lose sight of what truly has value in our lives – people and the time we spend together.

Things we buy can aid our lives and make things easier: The pricey Mix Master in the kitchen, the deluxe ceramic flatiron in the bathroom or even the abundance of cute tops from the Forever 21 clearance sale giving us an extra week without having to do laundry.

But particularly where clothes are concerned,  fashion magazines often encourage us women to be collectors of shoes and dresses and all the latest accessories. How many of us gurls have gone through our overstuffed closets only to find that we have nothing to wear? Instead of sorting through what we have, we go out and buy more “stuff” that we will wear once or twice before adding them to the mountain of clothes in which we have positively nothing to wear.

I love my InStyle and Glamour magazines but as I have recently had my income slashed and have been forced to cut down on my shopping, it has occurred to me what an impact

these fashion and beauty magazines play in determining what I buy. They tell me what styles are in, what styles I think I need, where to buy these items, and even sometimes how much I should be spending. It is the none-too-subtle advertising and articles that make it seem like I need to bolt out to buy the latest fashions showcased in their featured article before they go out of style again next week.

For instance, a large and sharp advertisement of Diorshow Iconic overcurl mascara convinces me that I will have “big screen lashes” if I use the $50 mascara. I am persuaded by this ad because of the close-up on three pictures of long luxurious lashes on a beautiful model. But do I really need this mascara? I mean, isn’t my $18 mascara from Clinique good enough? Some people would consider that expensive.

Turn to the article on What’s Now! where a tasteful piece on lingerie (a guilty pleasure of mine), showcases a  gorgeous bra, baby doll, garter, thong and see-through top. Not only is lingerie the last thing I need but I have no trouble finding it at a cheaper price and similar quality to the lingerie showcased in the magazine. But the ease of the tablet version allowing me to go right to where the lingerie is sold makes it really hard on my willpower not to buy the beautiful fuschia bra that I don’t need.

While these magazines give us information about new products and styles, they also encourage us to constantly be urged to spend every time we take a glane at the magazine. They work against a gurl’s self-control to keep her clothing and accessory budget and make us think we need items that we really don’t. Gurls should spend money on things that they are going to wear – less cash on fad items and more money on items that are classic and can be worn across seasons. We also have to work within our budget. If a $50 mascara is half of my makeup and skincare budget then that item is probably not for me.

It is vital that we consider what we buy, not only to be careful of our budgets, but to consider the environment. In 2-3 years, most of these clothes in the magazine will not be “in” any more. Fashion is always changing and where will those clothes and accessories end up? Are the products used in the makeup items I am buying really good for my skin and eyes? Shouldn’t I check into that before I use them? And where does all the makeup packaging go? Not to mention the fact that it is far more worthwhile to have money to spend with your friends and families making memories. I love fashion magazines but we need to be careful that we do not become obsessed with buying things for the sake of staying current and trendy when often we can get away with spending a lot less by being thrifty, practical and creative.

Do you think fashion magazines influence what you buy? What about internet “window shopping” or Pinterest?

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