It’s that time of year again, where Thanksgiving is over, everyone ate too much, and it’s time to commence the crazy Black Friday tradition. Sales everywhere, malls packed to the brim at midnight, you know what I’m talking about. And as a beauty blogger who loves trying out new makeup products, many aspects of this hobby are inherently materialistic. However, that does not mean I will find excuses to support consumerism.
I was inspired to write today’s post by a Facebook photo Beyonce recently posted on her page:
The photo itself didn’t prompt any strong reaction from me (I was just like purty nails) but then, I took the time to read some top comments:
It was both shocking and invigorating to me that so many people were backing these comments. So many of us are losing the ability to critically judge our consumerist, materialistic desires, allowing these desires to manifest to unhealthy levels and to block conversations about improving society itself. We see Beyonce with her stack of stunning rings and most of us, me included, would sigh, “if only I could afford those rings.” Beyonce poses next to her beautiful home and everyone sighs, “when I grow up, I want to make enough money to live in that place.” Celebrities create and feed off our materialistic desires in such a subtle, yet dangerous way. Our dreams are reduced from producing social equality and changing the world to being rich enough to buy A, B, and C.
At this point, you may think I’m oversimplifying things – and I really am, because the real tricky part is that the line between superficial consumerist desires and genuine life goals is extremely blurry. As a makeup blog for social process, I’m stepping right on that shaky line. Beyonce is too – many other comments defend her, pointing out that she does tons of charity work, or that she worked hard for this job, so deserves to splurge when she wants. I also applaud Beyonce as a person who has quite literally changed the world. However, that doesn’t make the convention of celebrities publicly displaying material luxury a non-issue.
Mind you, I’m not attacking Beyonce – I’m critiquing the celebrity industry in general. And am I saying that everyone should live in small tents and never shop for clothes and makeup and just eat homegrown vegetables all day and talk about Shakespearean literature? No – that is unrealistic and just honestly a sad alternative for us modern people. What I am saying is that we should be honest with ourselves about whether our seemingly grandiose life dreams are just materialistic goals in disguise, and be aware of just how shameful materialistic obsession looks when compared with all the social problems we are facing right now. When a celebrity posts a picture with three LV bags, instead of falling into the self-assuring, “I have to make enough to buy that many bags one day”, we should think, “do I want to be the kind of person who is willing to dedicate my career to a bag brand?” With that, all the transcendent glory that LV bag is projecting at us falls away. We realize, damn, that it’s just a leather bag with a label on it (and people across the ocean who need to feed their families are probably getting paid lower than minimum wage to make these bags).
I treat consumerism like putting cream in your coffee in the morning. If you put more cream than coffee, the drink may taste sweeter, but there won’t be enough caffeine to actually wake you up to what is going on in the world. Buying cute things should naturally make you happy, and often times you’ve worked hard and deserve splurge on something. However, I advise that you don’t indulge too much, or it will make you go crazy over different shades of lipstick and grow numb to real problems that are going on in our society.
Something to think about post-Black Friday. Adieu!