Body image is very personal. VERY. Issues of shame and guilt and self-worth swirl around when body image is discussed, and many women are reluctant to share their inner thoughts for fear of being judged. My hope is that the more we talk about how we view our bodies, how we feel about them, and how we wish we could feel about them, the more that reluctance will ebb.
Spending habits are also very personal. Issues of shame and guilt and self-worth swirl around when finances, shopping preferences, and money matters are discussed, too. And my impression is that leveling judgment on a woman for her weight or stylistic choices is considered by many people to be cruel and inappropriate,* but those same people may feel perfectly free to chastise her for blowing a paycheck on a new pair of heels.
Why is that? Why are people – especially women – subject to open scrutiny and critique for how they manage their finances? If someone else spends her money differently from how you spend yours, does that affect you directly in ANY way? Why does it matter to you? I suppose I could understand reactions of outrage if people found out that Melinda Gates spent 70% of her money at Prada and Chanel and gave nary a dime to charity. But even then, it’s really none of our business what she does with her dough. Her money, her choices.
Two years ago, I began a 6 month shopping ban. You can read the epic saga right here, but, in a nutshell, I was shopping and spending unchecked, causing financial damage, and feeling utterly lost and out-of-control. So – as many style bloggers have done before me – I decided to create a self-imposed ban. I knew quitting cold turkey would just backfire, so I allowed myself $10 per week to spend on used clothing, shoes, and accessories. Nothing new for 6 months besides gifts.
I did it entirely for myself, because I was feeling awful about my relationship with shopping, not due to any outside input. It was fun and it was hard and it was weird and Already Pretty readers had varied reactions. Many were supportive of my project, many more fascinated by my progress, and a small minority quite judgmental about my slip-ups. And since then I’ve become wary of posting about my finances and shopping habits, or publishing photos of my shoe collection, my closet, and my jewelry. Because whenever I do, sprinkled in amongst the inquisitive, friendly, and respectful comments is the inevitable handful telling me that there is clearly something wrong with me, that I need to seek help for my shopping addiction, that I am setting a bad example for other women simply by owning so much shit.
And I’ve justified myself until I’m blue in the face – it’s my hobby and passion, the blog is my side business, I have both the money and storage to support my shopping preferences – but I honestly don’t understand why I should have to do so. What I do and don’t do with my money is my business. No one knows how much of it I have, or where it goes, or why – not even my husband. I cannot wrap my head around the hostility that my vast shoe collection prompts from a certain segment of the population. I’m not spending anyone else’s money on those shoes, or storing them in anyone else’s home. Where does this disgust and resentment come from?
These may seem like questions with obvious answers, but I’d like your honest input: Why are women so harshly judged for how we choose to spend our money? Why is it so distasteful for a woman to be observed using her disposable income to buy clothing or shoes or accessories, or anything related to style, fashion, beauty, or appearance? Why do people feel so free to hand down judgment and unsolicited advice about financial management? What do you perceive to be the differences between how people judge men and how people judge women in matters of money?
*Not all, obviously. Cattiness still exists, of course, and plenty of people of both genders feel free to judge on weight, style, and outward appearance alone.