In Which We Discuss the Consumerist Habit of Moralizing the Amoral Consuming We Partake In.

I remember the first time I ever purchased a fleece <enter well known brand> jacket.

“Oh I love your jacket! But <well known brand> is just so overpriced.”

I wasn’t about to argue–most definitely it was overpriced. Nonetheless, as one person after another effused their admiration for my jacket, yet, in the same breath negated the value of the purchase, I began to grow a tad irritated.

It was almost like in conceding that I had a nice jacket, they also had to claim the moral high ground for not succumbing to that frivolity. And we are indeed living in a heyday of people seeking to socially position themselves as victims, or if victimization is impossible, the attainment of moral superiority.

See, no one likes to be singled out or accused, and if you have a nifty little buffer for any nasty social interactions, you can sail through life with little pain of mind.

Victimization=you are attacking me in a way consistent with the way X-group of people are being attacked, and I identify with them.

Moral Superiority=I may be an annoying twit, but the way that I conduct myself within the bounds of whatever contrived morality I ascribe to, frees me of any responsibility.

There are true victims. There are also wonderfully beautiful, moral people. There are also people who exploit those things in order to possess the social upper hand.

Wow. That was harsh, Me. I know. I digressed hard just now. Yes, yes you did.

Onward.

The irony in all of my fleecy fiasco, was that most of the people carrying the word “overpriced” around like a chihuahua in a purse, ALSO had probably sent a text message, purchased a pair of flip flops, or eaten (my favorite example) a “value” fry.

Let’s talk the numbers on that salty paper bag of goodness, shall we?

Potato

This is a potato. It weighs approx. 7 oz.

You can buy a 5 lb. bag of these (80 oz.) for $2.47.

There was a time in history, not too long ago, when you could purchase a small *value* fry for $1.00. One, measly little dollar for 2.6 ounces of finger-licking bliss.

So basic math (which took me entirely too long) says: 80 oz.=297 cents, 16 oz.=50 cents, and generously, 2.6 oz. rounded up=10 cents.

Throw in oil and you have a raw material’s cost of about 15 cents. Now, granted, <generic fast food brand> is paying somebody $2.00 per 15 minutes to scoop those fries into a paper sleeve for you… and they have to make a profit.

Just like every other business that affords you the luxury of having things with no other inconvenience to you but cold hard cash.

The majority of items on today’s market are rarely of any kind of true value. By the time you factor in materials, labor, marketing, and retail, you wind up with something that is double or triple the base cost. In short, everything is overpriced. It’s the price we pay for convenience.

NOW. I’m not saying this is an inherently bad thing. What I am saying is that our perception of value/expense is a little warped. 

I encounter mass production on a bit of a bipolar basis. On one hand, I love things. I am walking, talking proof that the psychology behind branding/packaging absolutely works. “OOOOHHHHHH. Is that a tiny silicone flower pot??? Of course I need it! It’s so small… and cute! I’ll grow tiny flowers in it, ok!?”

-True story

Yet, sometimes, I aimlessly wander around mass merchandise temples and feel almost sick at the sheer amount of stuff.

So. Much. Stuff.

And we get it and get rid of it. And get it and get rid of it. And get it and get rid of it. And somehow we feel justified because of- value. Especially if it was cheap.

You won’t find us spending money on overpriced elitism! Unless of course, it’s something we really want/need like new cars, frapamochamacchiatotinos, or fruit-branded electronics.

Once again, no judgement. I am guilty of all of the above. It just seems like there are some obvious alternatives to the consuming cycle that aren’t gaining a lot of popularity. I mean, despite the varied and complex nuances of the economy, I don’t think any of us relish the idea of small Asian children sweating over our convenience items. Nonetheless, a common attitude towards the world of artisan/heritage skill/locally made product is:

“But it’s so overpriced.”

It’s true. We do live in an age where every DIY’er or budding Picaso feels that their Etsy shop entitles them to the same compensation as people who dedicate a lifetime to their craft.

Was that harsh again? Darn it… yes, it was.

Though, honestly, I would rather overpay for somebody’s craft room exploits than the maddeningly decreasing quality of <famous brand of sports shoes> 20 dollars worth of material (and craftsmanship) that they want me to dish out $100+ for.

If we managed to cut out even just 30% of our cyclical junk and replaced it with higher quality, “overpriced” hand made or locally made product, we would already be reducing waste.

I think this is why I am intrigued by companies that are moving towards a model that seeks to, instead of mass producing a product, supply precise amounts of merchandise to the demand. It’s true that this can be costly. But does costly mean overpriced?

I’m not so naive as to think that child laborers will be magically liberated and employed gainfully by making a few alternative purchases. In fact, at first the opposite will probably be true. However, embracing less waste in my life, without completely swearing off frivolity (because let’s be honest, I love frivolity), helps me focus on what is important, and maybe eventually will lead to a dialogue that can help precious Asian babies have more to look forward to than making cheap American merchandise.

I guess that’s the deal. Cheap does not equal value or fairly priced, and frivolity does not equal waste.

A new-ish shoe company my brother introduced to me does a good job illustrating this. Aliveshoes offers a platform for independent individuals to design and sell shoes in an exact demand/supply format. The shoes are luxury items and cost $100+… so, in simple terms, they are frivolous. But they are made out of quality materials by real Italian craftsmen–an item you can frivolously wear for a lifetime.

I am a bit of an extreme thinker. I can tend to find myself moseying into thoughts like, “Really, I could easily survive with two outfits, two pairs of shoes, and a tiny hovel for a house. I’ll eat feed corn the tractors missed and bathe in the river.” And if Jesus asked me to to that, I would say yes.

He may be asking YOU to do that. But He would be asking you to do that so you could lend value to another person’s life–and that’s what it’s all about.

Whether you have money or not. Whether you spend it on frivolous things or not. It’s all about where you’re putting your value (which isn’t always tied to money BT-DUBS).

It’s okay to splurge on a sweet pair of kicks. Especially if the value is there. Don’t get caught up in the pseudo morality of over/under priced merch.

I am seriously impressed with the vision my brother has for the shoe he designed. He’s a go-getter and needs to sell seven of them in order for production to start. If you think they are as rad as I do, you should probably nab a pair.

Yeah, wear a pair of sweet Venue sneakers, and then go support a precious cherubic Eastern, largest continent dwelling, small human.

But seriously, buy some shoes.

And help babies.

I’m done guys.

Keep those heads in the clouds.

-H

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the One About Teenaged Me

So, this post is going to contain a lot of photos.

Specifically, flashback photos of muhself.

Hayley from 2008 would pretend to be embarrassed, but secretly hope it might launch her into internet fame.

I considered writing a letter to eighteen-year-old me, but everybody does that. And after spending a considerable time debating my angle, (pretty much just the five seconds between that period and capital ‘A’) I decided to just let the pictures drive the trolley and settle back with a water bottle and PA system.

You probably would like to know the topic of today’s little tour, and that my Dear Readers, is a relatively hot topic: societal standards of beauty.

I try not to prance too far into the camps of the offended elite, but I felt that this topic warranted discussion. Whether you be mother, daughter, or friend, we need to start talking less about the way misogynist comic book illustrators are portraying us, and more about the way our female specific magazines, movies, and products are warping our perception of ourselves.

I know I’m not the only voice out here–I’m not the first, and I definitely won’t be the last, but I think that maybe if more of us start telling our stories, somebody will listen.

*begin*

I grew up knowing that my worth was not defined by my beauty or waist size, by a very wise set of parents.

Over and over again, I was reminded of my inherent value and individuality. However, today as I flipped through old photos of myself, I realized that my perception of *me* at the time was not untainted.

1 2

The photo on the left was taken shortly after I discovered Lookbook. It took me a few more years to create my own account, but I started taking pictures. My head-canon for not liking the left outfit argued that the shorts were too short, (hidden by the sweater much?) but if I’m being honest in retrospect, even if the shorts had been long enough, I still thought my legs looked too thick.

The outfit on the right had some head-shot counterparts that made it onto Facebook. I never liked this photo though. Partly because of the sliver of tummy, but mostly because I thought I looked really chubby.

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Fast forward a year and some change. Notice the wide stance–we wouldn’t want those thighs to touch now, would we? The photo on the left was taken on a day where I tried to get a few dance shots. Those were posted, but only after I had enhanced the shadows to make me look thinner. On the right, you see another abandoned attempt at an outfit shot. I gave up after seeing that photo.

I was dancing four to five times a week at this point, and settled into what I thought was my roll as the heavy ballerina.

5

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I finally signed up for a Lookbook account, but didn’t post very frequently. My ribcage never met my hip bones with a concave line, and “boy, don’t my knees look chubby above those socks?” I posted puddle-jumping look, but later took it down.

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Eventually, I got pickier about my poses. The photo with the green chucks was an all-time favorite because I managed to hide the biggest parts of my body. The photo with the green scarf never even made it to editing because of my legs.

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These photos never made it to final editing because I didn’t feel like slimming my stomach with my cheap editing software.

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I definitely doctored up my abs in this photo, but couldn’t find the original to show a comparison. You know, because the internet wouldn’t appreciate that “ballon” if my gut was hanging out.

13

By twenty-one, I figured I was a lost cause.

If I’d never managed to squeeze my behind back into my size 4 jeans from the first picture, no matter how nice I thought I looked, *truly attractive* wasn’t really a choice.

Now, I didn’t write this post to have you all say things like, “Oh, you look great, girl!” “Don’t listen to stupid people.” or “You’re beautiful the way you are.”

Eighteen-year-old me would have, but that’s not the point.

knew I had value. I knew logically that I wasn’t fat. I knew the expectation I had for myself was a lie.

Yet, somehow I didn’t feel that my body had a place in beautiful.

And to be honest, I’m still not there yet.

And to be more honest, I’m not really sure what the answer is. We all deal with insecurities, and I don’t think we will ever eradicate them. Nonetheless, I do believe we need to collectively point our feminine fingers at Hollywood and Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health and every makeup, fitness, clothing, and underclothing brand out there.

jcrew-5 pMAT1-14170638enh-z6 2014-11-10-141107080131victoriassecretperfectbodyslogan620xa

It’s not a matter of thin being wrong, or just adding plus sized models to your line-up…

HELLO! We call them *plus sized* models.

Thin is beautiful and should be embraced. Bodacious is beautiful and should be embraced.

YET, somehow, after all the propaganda, efforts at esteem conservation, and countless counter campaigns, the body representation chart still specializes in the extremes.

Our girls can’t merely be told that their bodies are beautiful and accepted, they have to be shown.

SO I challenge you: bloggers, media people, advertisements. Post the one about teenaged YOU. Be honest about the lies you believe and the battles that you’ve won.

I may never feel that my body has a place in America’s beauty, but learning how to not give a crap about what America thinks about beauty goes along way. God created us, and He creates beauty. We are reflections of Who He is.

Don’t forget it.

Challenge your friends to share the One About Teenaged You.

And keep those heads in the clouds~

-H