I'm not a genius or a prodigy or that girl who played Winnie Cooper, but I'm a pretty smart person. I don't follow most trends without thinking, I try not to use words I don't understand, I don't buy things off the TV. Still, with all my rationality and with all the raging feminism of my twenties, I do have my weaknesses. And one of them is Victoria's Secret.
I waddle through the mall, balancing the Christmas presents I need to exchange, arms laced with the straps of shopping bags. I see it in the distance, glowing pink. On either side of its entrance, posters fill the space from ceiling to floor with images of open-mouthed women and their extraordinarily long torsos. A scent, vaguely vanilla, seems to traipse into my nostrils. I strain to avert my eyes. Silently remind myself, It's a trap. They know what appeals to your young female brain. If you go in there, you'll spend money you don't have on items you don't need and then you'll be hooked and never, ever escape. But it is too late. I am lured into this wonderland of lace, glitter, cotton strewn about messily on purpose. I give myself over to the poppy music, inadvertently changing my footsteps to match the beat, until my zombie stride is identical to those of the other shopping prisoners. My smart-person brain is taken hostage. All my thoughts become one repeating mantra: This is sexy. You need sexy. Must be sexy. Buy the sexy.
I find myself twiddling through delicate fabrics, turning over pretty items in my hands. Suddenly, $70 sounds like a perfectly reasonable amount to spend on a nightgown. People who wear these sweatshirts have qualities that I need. My lumpy skin looks nothing like this mannequin, but maybe that's because I don't own this sparkly thing.
I need more money. I need to lose my belly fat. I need to brighten my skin. I need to slather on these creams, pat my face with this powder pompom, wear high heels, inexplicably, to bed. I need to pout my lips like her, I need to pose myself like her, I need to buy everything in this room so I can be exactly what their labels promise: a bombshell, a centerfold, a vixen, a tease.
And then I'm in line, palming an overpriced tube of lotion whose smell would not have enticed me half as much at Macy's. I fiddle about with miniature last-minute products strategically placed near the register. Perhaps I should be wearing lipgloss. Men must like oily, slippery magenta lipgloss, or else it wouldn't be called Beauty Rush, or else it wouldn't be here. Maybe I should get some and watch the woman behind the counter wrap it in hot pink tissue paper and then I can be desirable glamorous wanted worthy. But it's my turn to check out now, and the reality of making a monetary transaction zaps enough sense to my brain that I drop the lipgloss back in its container. I sign my unnecessarily pink receipt and I finally emerge from the store with only one bag. With each step toward the pretzel kiosk, I feel Victoria's grip on me loosen. I am no longer sultry. I am no longer a slave.
Why does that place have so much control over me? I got decent standardized test scores! I've bookmarked CNN.com! In the real world, I am confident, comfortable, and proud of my body and the person inside it. I wear mismatching socks and I only own three pairs of jeans. I should be above these too-obvious marketing schemes, but I'm not. Not quite.
So I wonder, how do you deal with this kind of temptation to spend heaps of money on qualities that can't be bought? How do you convince yourself that sexiness has nothing to do with labels, and that being a good person has little to do with sexiness? Is it always negative? As often as it makes me feel inadequate, its products also make me feel sort of empowered and feminine. Where is the line?
I can't be the only smart girl who still gets sucked in by marketing once in a while. I'm interested in hearing your opinions on the subject. Until then, I hope you're all having a great week. I'm looking forward to reading your responses!
Chipotle burritos this year: 31
Nail color: "Devilish," Revlon
Miles run today: 0, but I ate cheesecake, which is practically the same thing.
P.S. It is not sexiness that I have an issue with. Sexiness is awesome and ABSOLUTELY a trait that smart women can possess. My issue is with DESIGNER sexiness. My issue is with paying twice as much for something because it comes on a pink hanger. You know?