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Online Shopping Addiction and the Epidemic: Here’s How 2 Women Quit

“At the time banana bread started getting really popular, I started pressing the buy button a lot, buying things I wouldn’t normally think of,” said Emily Wang, a Los Angeles-based lifestyle content creator.

“I was using retail therapy to feel better because I can’t get my hair or lashes done right now,” the 27-year-old said. Wang, who was isolating with her fiancé and two dogs, began buying a ton of workout apparel, which often had “five tabs open from five different brands.”

The shopping spree, she said, came in waves.

“I’m not seeing people right now, so the excitement of trying something new gives me satisfaction,” Wang said. But this only lasted for a while.

“I started thinking, ‘Maybe I didn’t really need this,'” she said. “I’m making a lot of comebacks.”

Emily Wang in workout gear from a recent online shopping spree.

When we buy a new bag or ballet flats, we often curate more than a look. We are approaching a person that we associate with particular items or a style in general. One of the first academics to write about fashion, Roland Barthes, in his 1967 book, discussed the phenomenon as a fetish, or representation of desire, “the language of fashionToday, when we shop online for the perfect outfit — in quarantine no less — we’re tapping into a greater sense of connection, an imagined future.

Priya Alpern, a clinical psychologist in New York told HuffPost that online shopping “can provide satisfaction.” Control and mastery are needed at a time when many of us are feeling stuck, helpless and uncertain about the future.”

“Finding an exciting deal activates the reward and pleasure center of the brain, eliciting a sense of satisfaction that at least temporarily alleviates the uncomfortable feelings that many people are dealing with right now,” Alpern said. said.

Many online retailers are relying on the fact that consumers crave the self-esteem boost that can accompany a new pair of shoes, especially if they’re billed as a flash sale or part of a limited fall. is done.

E-commerce sites like Zaful and Sheen infiltrate social media feeds, where, according to a report published by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Strategies include “enhancing digital platforms, shifting from brand building to customer activation, specifically targeting basket creation and repurchase triggers.” Although it is too early to calculate The impact of the pandemic on the $600 billion fashion industry, the report predicted that 75% of apparel companies in North America would find themselves in debt. To offset some of the losses, expect a boom in e-commerce marketing, as fast fashion tries to make up for its losses.

According to fashion psychologist Jayme Albin, mere exposure can be very powerful. When we see a fashion ad on social media, “over time it creeps into our minds,” he told HuffPost.

“Especially with COVID, we are at home and most of our time is spent on the internet or with our devices,” he said. “Two years ago, we wouldn’t have bought from a brand we’d never heard of, where we couldn’t touch or try. Now, it has become the new normal.”

As pervasive as these new shopping habits may be, so is conscious consumption – which can help those whose pandemic shopping has spiraled out of control.

,[I depersonalized] algorithms so I no longer see ads suggesting fast fashion. By constantly selecting the ‘Not Interested’ button, I’ve been able to reduce these ads.”

– Dalyth Phillips

,Instagram, Snapchat and other social media are so consumerism-focused,” Dalyth Phillips, 16, of New York, told HuffPost.

“These apps were constantly popping up ads based on things I showed interest in,” she said. Rather than prompting her to buy, these ads ended up “creating a sense of shame” for buying fast fashion in the past.

“I decided to take a behind-the-scenes look at these brands and examine their ethics, looking at the impact on workers in the supply chain, on wildlife and deforestation,” she said. “The further I delved into the statements of these companies, the more I found euphemisms and double-speak.”

Delyth Phillips is wearing a dress she made herself.

Courtesy of Dalyth Phillips

Delyth Phillips is wearing a dress she made herself.

With many social, environmental and ethical concerns to wean themselves from the online shopping habit, Philips created a digital detox specifically designed to stop bargaining.

“I started by removing all shopping apps like Urban Outfitters, Forever21, Dot, and Sephora,” she said. She then set out to “modify the algorithm so that I could no longer see commercials suggesting fast fashion.”

“By constantly selecting the ‘Not Interested’ button, I’ve been able to reduce these ads,” she explained. “Eventually, I unsubscribed from all the mailing lists that recommended me fast fashion, unfollowed models, and brands. Within a week, I started seeing results.”

Philips now calculates the cost of an item based on price, wearability, and “future memories that I will be bound by these clothes.” She has become devoted to “slow consumption” and wants to use her “voice to tell others what’s going on behind the clothes they wear.”

People are socially distant, but not in a vacuum – our style shopping still says something about who we are.

“Influencers are used to making choices about whether or not to buy something,” Wang said, noting that the trend is becoming popular with her friends who aren’t influential. “Now, I’m trying to find a balance, making sure that the purchase will not only make me happy, but that the brand aligns with my values.”

Whether awake consumerism is a fad or a tipping point remains to be seen. As people face quarantine fatigue and myriad uncertainties, they are also seizing the chance to reflect on what their shopping clothes say about who they are and aspire to be.

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