How Not Buying Can Be A Confidence Booster

The other day, I went out shopping with a few of my girlfriends. Yes, the Ethical Consumer went shopping. I had to buy a pair of sunglasses, my friends had to buy some trousers.

We went to one store, where I found cheap sunglasses in about five minutes. I purchased them, and then spent the rest of the time, just hanging back, chatting with my friends and waiting for them to finish shopping.

"You're not looking at any clothes?" one of them asked.

"Nah," I responded. "I don't need clothes."

And I didn't. But that's never stopped me before.

Once upon a time, I used to go out shopping with my friends and buy. Because I could. Because I wanted to. Because I thought that if I bought this shirt, or this dress it would turn me into another more awesome person. Because I thought I could reinvent myself, one cute shirt at a time.

Somehow, my year of not shopping broke the cycle and permanently changed who I am and how I view myself. Instead of thinking I need a shirt to reinvent myself, I've become more comfortable with who I already am.

We are sold products with the idea that if we own a product, we will become cooler, wittier, funnier, better looking. It's an age-old marketing device, and advertisers use it to sell everything from iPhones to beer to vests. But if we ever stopped for a second to think about this, we would realize, we don't need these things to be cool or funny or have good friends and family. We don't need a new dress to be pretty.

As I learnt in my year of not shopping, clothes do not make the person. I can't change myself just by changing my clothes. And really that's okay. Because the truth is? As I sit here, wearing an eight year old tee-shirt and jeans purchased in the nineties, I realize I'm pretty happy with who I am.

Sorry advertisers. I'm finally on to you.