Shopping Ban Update … Sort of …


I’ve had several people ask for an update on the shopping ban now that it’s been over for several months … but I’m afraid I’m not ready to provide one just yet.

I got some really, REALLY nasty comments from readers about the ban towards the end. I didn’t publish many of them because they were so hurtful and, I felt, not the least bit constructive. I cheated a few times as things were winding down, and some readers told me they thought I was setting a bad example, being irresponsible, acting stupidly and selfishly, buying stuff I didn’t need, and all sorts of other judgmental stuff that was very difficult to hear … especially as I was doing this experiment for myself, with no intention of setting any example, good or bad.

To clarify, I used the shopping ban to explore my own spending issues and work on a behavior that had challenged me for a long time, and I chose to share that journey. If my actions were inspirational to people, that’s fantastic! I never encouraged anyone to follow in my footsteps, but if they wanted to, that was just fine. Being told that I was disappointing people by not living up to their standards for ban-behavior, however, felt upsetting and unfair. I understand that publishing writings about myself may make me a minor role model, whether I want to be or not. But I felt maliciously judged by some of these comments in a way that shamed me for being honest about my missteps. Like I was being told that anything less than perfect-superhuman behavior was unacceptable. And, as I’ve said, I am far from perfect. FAR, people.

Now, I do love it when my readers challenge me, and disagree with me, ask me the tough questions, and get fired up about issues that we can all discuss together. So don’t get me wrong and think that I expect everyone to lavish me with praise no matter what I say or do. Not at all. But I am even more sensitive about money than I am about weight, and sharing the shopping ban was even more difficult than sharing my body-image hang-ups. To get a big dose of comment-based shame for my actions has made me very wary of sharing that type of information again.

So I’m not immediately ready to write about ban-related matters, especially as I have continued to struggle with my finances in the aftermath. In October, once a full year has gone by, I promise a mondo recap … but I’m simply not ready yet. I need some more distance on the whole experience before I’m ready to share again.

Image courtesy uvm.edu

  • K.Line

    Truly, I can't believe anyone would have the nerve to judge you for chronicling an experience of personal development. Makes me want to haul off and smack 'em.

    I thought the ban was fascinating (much as Enc's was). It actually helped me to contextualize my own spending habits and to make some (very moderate by comparison with you) changes. So thanks for that.

  • shopgirl28

    It's good that you went on a shopping ban, if you needed it to help yourself. I don't get why people would write negative comments about that. I say do what you need to do because there are people who could relate and need to do the same.

  • Denise

    Sal,

    You just take your sweet time writing about your ban. I found your blog mid-ban, roughly, and I was inspired (though I'd heard about it before) to start a mini-ban of my own. You're absolutely right: disregard rude and shaming comments. It's different if someone wants to challenge your ideas or actions and wants to know more, or is simply asking you to look at it from a different perspective. But to know that you had such crap coming your way is disappointing.

    So anyway, continue on: I, for one, am happy to wait and see what you have to say at the one-year mark!

  • Haller Family G

    I am sorry to hear that you received such negative and hurtful comments. My friend uses this acronym to judge when you should make a comment:

    T – is it thoughtful
    H – is it honest
    I – is it intelligent
    N – is it necessary
    K – is it kind

    Many comments will meet the first 4 and fall apart on the last.

    I found your journey through the shopping ban enlightening as I often struggle with the need to sooth myself through shopping as well. Keep you chin up.

    Patricia

  • Kara

    That's too bad you were getting such negative comments. I applaud you for just trying to do it! I'm not sure I could…

  • Melissa

    Don't worry about the haters…I love your blog!

  • Tina Z.

    Girl, I say f'em. I was inspired reading your shopping ban posts as I have some of the same shopping hang-ups as you (and I think many women do, whether they admit it or not). Thanks for sharing and I hope you continue to do so in the future…

  • Rosie Unknown

    I can't believe people would do that!

  • Vildy

    You make sense to me. It's easier to glean what you want from an experiment when you aim to be accountable only to yourself.

    There's a study out that shows people lose more weight and maintain it better when they are blogging – it is assumed that it is because they feel accountable to their readers to be an inspiration/example for them. Doesn't appeal to me at all as a motivation/mechanism for doing anything. Even if it got them results.

  • Hannah

    I stumbled across your blog just a short time ago. And to be honest, I found your shopping ban to be interesting. I can understand not wanting to get back into the middle of a sticky subject. You are human and in my mind, allowed to make mistakes you learn from. Some days will be easier than others.

    Don't let the naysayers get you down.

  • Cary

    Sorry to hear you had so many mean comments in response to your experiment. Hope it doesn't put you off blogging. There's actually a really good article from Indian Knight (one of my favorite columnists) about how mean some people get when airing their views on the internet at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/india_knight/article5733634.ece.

  • Sher

    I know exactly where you're coming from. And it's a hard thing to do to have to explain yourself to the people who read your blog.

    Part of me wants to explain like I would as a child to a parent. The other part is slightly upset that I feel the need to explain, after all it is MY blog.

    My post today is "explaining" what I pay for items. I've had several comments saying they could never afford that "label". Then I have others who consider what I wear as "discount". And the truth is I shop both.

    My blog is a catalog of what I wore. And I wear what pleases me and not what other people choose for me to wear.

    So your blog should be what you choose it to be; and not what others dictate.

    When I was younger I wanted to please everyone else. Now that I'm older I've learned we have to please ourselves first.

  • Anna

    Sal, part of what made reading about the ban more inspiring for me was your honesty when you did slip up a bit. I used to be a seriously compulsive shopper, and reading about your ban helped me come to terms with my own spending habits. You wouldn't have done us any good if you had been a perfect example, because then you wouldn't have been real.

    I can't wait to read your update on the shopping ban experience when you're ready to write about it.

  • Bianca

    So ridiculous for people to make those kinds of comments! Sorry to hear that it spoiled the experience. I found it fascinating.

  • Nina (femme rationale)

    i can't imagine why anyone would leave you nasty comments about the ban…or about anything, really. i think it's so admirable that you decided to take charge of your finances and actually do something about it rather than sit around and stress about it like most of us do. i'm sorry you were subjected to such negativity…you're the last person to deserve any of it.

  • Sarah R

    I'm always amazed at what people will type. I've gotten some nasty comments about my son with autism, and I truly wonder that if I was standing in front of them, if they'd have the balls to say it. Probably not. The computer is anonymous to them. You don't owe anyone in the blogosphere a damn thing, Sal.

  • Sal

    Oh, my dears, thank you for all your supportive words! I wasn't trying to throw myself a pity party with this post. I just got a surprisingly large number of inquiries from readers about a ban update – I had no idea this subject had been so interesting to so many – and felt like I should explain my silence. Thanks for letting me know that not everyone saw my missteps as failures!

  • honeybeeglue

    Sally, you are Great! I love your blog.
    Don't let the few nay-sayers get you down.
    I read Already Pretty almost everyday. And I find your
    blog uplifting and joyful.

    Thank you for being YOU:)

  • Kelly

    Sal! How could people be mean to you! You are nothing but completely sweet and supportive to everyone else…I hate that anyone was less than that for you.

  • Casey

    Sweet Sal! I cannot believe that people were rude enough to reprimand you for perceiving you to set a "bad example". My hat goes off to you for even starting your shopping ban–and sticking to it as splendidly as you did! (I could never be that good… haha!) You inspired me with your honesty–sharing the ups, downs and occasional deviations from the shopping ban path.

    Shame on the haters. ;)

  • Lemondrop Marie

    K.Line but it so well- the blog experiences is meant to be a "chronicle of personal development". We as readers can choose to cheer you on, learn from you, or perhaps disagree with your path. But it's ridiculous to criticize or demean anyone's efforts to monitor or change their habits. As you said, you are open to different ideas or constructive criticism- but I am amazed that anyone would find fault with what you've done. You are a bright spot for lots of us- so keep on inspiring. If you are pleasing everyone you probably aren't being true to yourself, right?

  • deb

    What everyone else said. Ignore the haters. For some people, the internet is just a vehicle for the exercise of their worst character traits. Phooey on 'em.

    And by the way, let's say you had been the "good example" that they seem to think you should have been. Let's say you reported nothing but how perfectly you carried out your shopping ban, with no backsliding or slipups or other "failures." How BORING would that be? Not to mention irritating. Who wants to read anyone's account of how perfect they are? How flawlessly and effortlessly they accomplished a project involving self-discipline? Yeah, right. Later with that! Sensible readers would just want to throw tomatoes at a blogger who wrote such self-congratulatory dreck. So, thanks for keeping it real.

  • Diana

    That's awful that some people gave such nasty comments. I loved how honest you were about when you messed up; it helped me to realize that not everyone is perfect, and that's just fine. And it helps me feel a little bit better about the fact that the only month I actually managed to stay within budget so far this year was February, which is also the shortest month of the year.

  • The Barely Tattoo’d Artist

    You know something, Sal? If it wasn't for you and your self-imposed ban, I probably wouldn't have put a ban on myself as well…

    And I'd like to thank you for the inspiration because recently my car needed tires and brakes…and since I'd banned myself from shopping, I had the much needed cash on hand…not to mention, I'm almost finished paying off the loan for it, among other things…

    Thank you and I hope this bit of info makes your day…

  • b.

    Aw, Sal, I'm really sorry. People can be so nasty on the internet. Just wanted to say that I for one really enjoyed reading about the ban and found it very helpful. I hope you'll remember that for every one stupid person who makes a mean comment there are a dozen of us benevolent lurkers who are rooting for you and finding value in your writing.

  • Nadine

    Yeah, I found the ban posts really interesting, too. I was going to say something in the suggestion box, but I couldn't think of what to say . . . go on ANOTHER ban, Sal, it was fascinating . . . ?

    People who are 'anti' are FREE TO LEAVE. They don't have to read your blog – ignore them. Ignore them HARD.

  • Sal

    Wow, I'm really moved by the outpouring of support. THANK YOU, sweeties! Thanks to all, of course, but especially to the lurkers who popped out today to say, "hey." I'm glad to know you're out there, and that you understand why I didn't make it through 6 months with no snarl-ups. Those negative comments weren't the majority, but they sure stuck with me, ya know? Anyways, thanks for your wonderful support.

  • Gillian

    People like that piss me off. Can I hurt them for you? My rates are quite reasonable. :P

  • ilikedginger

    That is INSANE. I can't believe people would actually care enough to get angry and mean over some stranger on the internet's spending habits. It blows my mind, it's just so sad.

  • hollarback

    I am stunned. People actually set nasty comments about a perfect strangers shopping ban..???…gotta love the anon internet for random judgmental a holes. Sorry, but whatever gave people the idea that they were being asked to pass judgment on ANYTHING?

    I loved the ban; the coverage and splurges etc…I don't understand why they would have any issues with it at all.

    Strange.

  • Laura.

    why IS it always so hard to get those few mean things out of our heads, no matter how many other nice things are said? i thought this post was especially articulate, strong, and expressive. grrr to those negative nancies!

  • Elizabeth Marie

    Ugh I am so sorry you had to experience this. You made a personal choice and CHOSE to share it with us, and who the heck is anyone to judge that? I know you inspire so many on a daily basis, so don't let this get you down too much. It's hard though I know to open yourself up and then get such baseless negativity thrown back.

    I admire you for handling it with such grace.
    XOXO, Liz

  • me

    You honesty about your missteps was why I kept on reading your blog.
    It takes a lot more courage and strength to admit missteps than to keep silent about them. And frankly, I wouldn't have believed you at all if you had managed to get through the ban without them – especially at the end.

    Hold on to the honesty toward yourself!

  • chiara

    I am sorry you got jundjemental comments… I whish you to keep doing what you want to do for yourself only, and not feel intimidated by stupid comments! Keep up the good work, Sal!

  • Imogen Lamport

    Sorry that people are so negative – we all have slip ups, and no one is perfect – could get all biblical and talk about casting the first stone here…

    I enjoyed reading about your ban – and admiring how well you did – I sometimes think about these things then just don't – some crazy deprivation thing comes over me and makes me want to shop more.

  • hannahdrewdash

    A shopping bad is difficult. Thank you for being honest. You have inspired me to much needed self reflection. I enjoy your blog!

  • lopi

    Some people juts don't think before they hit the "publish" button. And I haven't mentioned it before, but I've long admired you for your strict comment policy. I'm sure some may argue that it's too controlling, but I sure don't feel that way. Instead, I feel you are protecting us, your readers, from hurtful people. So, keep ignoring those insensitive, ignorant, malicious comments. It's the right thing to do.
    And whatever you decide to do about publishing more ban info, it's your call only. I'm sure gonna enjoy reading it, but I have no business whatsoever pushing you to share more.
    Stay positive, kisses and hugs!

  • momo

    I'm sorry some people were unkind to you because you were so generous in sharing the ups and downs of you experience with us.

    I truly enjoyed all your posts during your ban, because they were joyful, not anxious or fear-filled.

    I suspect that the mean comments are from people who resent joy and feel a need to try to drag other people down to their level of anxiety and fear. Their projections of judgment on you are a symptom of their own self-judgment. Must be sad to be them.

  • WendyB

    Ooh, I'm sorry you got the nasty comments. Some people have nothing better to do. Do you need me to go beat their asses?

  • Audi

    Aw Sal, it really chaps my hide to hear about the negative comments. Your ban posts were GREAT — I can't believe anyone would berate you for being honest about your slip-ups.

    As far as being a role model, that is seriously a bunch of crap. For one thing, your blog isn't ABOUT shopping bans, it's about body image. It'd be different if you wrote about how to appreciate and accept your body, and then went off and got all sorts of cosmetic surgery or started taking some awful diet pills. But even then, you are allowed to make your own choices, regardless of whether you have a semi-public persona or not. People need to take responsibility for their own actions; to imply that they're depending on a role model to guide them in their spending choices is immature and just plain idiotic. Sorry to rant, but I'm really steamed at these a**holes.

    I for one was very inspired by your journey, and I saw your few lapses as being completely understandable and not that big a deal in the final analysis. I also tried to curb my spending during that time period, and I slipped up plenty, but I sure as hell didn't justify my misbehavior by citing yours as an example.

    OK, need to go unclench my fists now….

  • lynngweeny

    You don't owe anyone anything.
    I read your blog for entertainment, not judgement. I think you are intelligent, witty and kind and have encouraged my friends and family to read your blog for the wonderful insights and help you offer. Ignore the haters. As a friend of mine says when I am complaining about dealing with a difficult person, "you just have an issue, but someone else has a subscription with them!"

  • kristophine

    As a research psychology grad student, I've had to study why people act like jerks when they perceive that they have some degree of anonymity. (Did you know that there's a positive correlation between the darkness of window tinting in cars and the number of hostile acts by their drivers? The darker the tinting, the more aggressive and hostile the driver.) The answer isn't pretty, but it's not unique.

    I have to say, your ban experiences were incredibly helpful to me. I struggle with budgeting, as I think most people do, regardless of where their money goes or how much of it there is. At the time I started reading about your ban, I was just beginning to deal with student loans. I did undergrad without them, but there was no other way to finance my graduate degree. It was a peculiar situation to me; I'd always had a rigid monthly budget before, and suddenly having thousands of dollars sitting in my bank account was wreaking havoc on my budgeting. I was screwing up left and right, quite a lot of it on shoes.

    When I read about your ban, I thought, Of course. That makes so much sense. Having a goal to shoot for, even if we don't always hit it, makes us better shoppers; it makes us more thoughtful and aware, and it makes us seriously consider whether the reward is worth the money. I did a less strict version of your ban, got my spending under control, and finished the year with about a third of my loan money still in my bank account–not bad, considering tuition. It's allowed me to leave the summer job from hell, so there's a very direct connection between getting my spending under control back in November and December and the quality of my life now.

    Nobody's perfect. Even Michael Pollan, who writes best sellers about our food choices and what they do to us, said on national television that he sometimes buys sweet cereals for his kids–the same kind of food he advises us to avoid. He didn't make any bones about it; he said, essentially, "Pick your battles."

    And if you had stuck perfectly to the ban, I think that actually would have been bad for me, in two ways: firstly, I would have wondered whether you were telling the whole truth. Secondly, I would have felt far worse about my own difficulties with the ban. It wasn't easy for me. I'm not great with self-control, especially when it comes to shoes, which are so beautiful and so easy to obtain. I did a number of slightly shady deals with myself, but in the end, I'd worked most of them out.

    I also understand the urge not to talk about something painful. I proposed my thesis about a month ago and I haven't been able to make myself look at the committee's comments on it in depth yet–and they're smart people who like me and said helpful things, not random jerks. So, take your time, and thank you for having the courage to be public about your decisions. You helped me. That's got to be worth something.

  • Sheila

    I'm astounded that people would say such things to you on your blog about your ban! That is crazy!

    I found your blog several months ago, and since I was doing my own ban I enjoyed reading about how yours was going. I would be so hurt if someone said stuff like that to me. Screw 'em!

    Anyway, outrage aside, I love your blog and you just keep on writing about whatever you damn well please. You are accountable to no one but yourself, Sal.

  • Hanako66

    yikes…I'm so sorry that you had negative feedback….it is so great that you shared it at all. and it was your ban, really, so you make the rules…so rude!

  • BAM

    I came midway through the shopping ban and loved reading about it. A lot of us have a tough time turning off the spending, especially when there are cheap deals. It was great to read about a real person trying to trim down. The mistakes made you human and relate-able.

    Thanks for being YOU!
    -b-

  • The Raisin Girl

    I'm sorry to hear that some members of your readership were unnecessarily harsh and cruel. Of course, it will always be true that if you put yourself out there in the universe–much easier a thing to do now than it used to be, what with the internet and all–there will always be people who treat you, your words, and your ideas in a way that you never intended. In some sense, you relinquish ownership of your actions when you air them, and they can be torn up and analyzed and abused by anyone with a computer and a keyboard. It's an ugly truth, but a truth nonetheless.

    I hope you won't have more experiences like this, but knowing that it's always a risk can help you grow a thick skin against that kind of thing. Believe me, I know. As an aspiring journalist, I get the things I write and say ripped apart and thrown back in my face all the time.

    On a less serious note, big internet hug, and hypothetic ice cream cone. I hope a few mean people won't rob the rest of us of your wonderful insights and candor. Your posts are always inspirational, and you probably will never know how much you've helped me and others learn to love our bodies more.

  • Heather

    Oh man I am really sorry to hear that you got negative comments about the ban. I found it so inspiring that I did my very own ban for 3 months and I'm about to do it again. It puts needs and wants into perspective and really helped me to get a grip on my finances. Of course, then I fell of the wagon but I'm planning to jump right back on it.

    I love your blog. Don't let mean people judge you like that. :( I will never understand why people have to get all judgemental and hateful about something that is a personal choice. You're doing us a favor by writing about your own struggles, if anything that deserves kindness and celebration.

  • hillary

    example to who is the question. You did it for yourself and you were clear about it. People get weird when they look to someone and put them in some sort of category and if they don't always live up to the preconceived idea they have for you they lash out. Its so weird what the anonymity of a computer will do to people. Sal what matters is what you and the husband thought the rest. Its just icing. Some of it that nasty icing no one likes but you know.

    You put your story out there in hopes it helps some not to hear people talk shit. bah. Hey people. BE NICE or I will tell your mom!

  • Cynthia

    Oh, Sal – thank you so much for your honesty. You helped me more than you will ever know!

    And don't ever feel like you have to justify yourself or your decisions to ANYBODY. You don't.