I want to apologize up front for the crazy path this blog post is going to take, this is a subject that my mind is still processing, so bear with me…
I want to talk about something that has been weighing on my heart pretty heavily recently, and that is materialism. I must admit that this is an ever-growing challenge I am faced with in my life, and it started when I moved to college. See, I go to school in DC…at a private university…aka, most people here have money. The fashion “trends”, “must haves” and “essential items” are ever present before my eyes here.
These fashion trends also presented themselves to me at a prominent time in my life: the transition from my teen years to my young adult life. In high school I wore a uniform every single day of my life. Being in college now, I am choosing for myself what kind of clothes I want to wear, and what type of style I want to have. Getting an internship my sophomore year has also played a role in this transformation, half (if not more than half) of every week I am dressed in business/business casual clothing. It also doesn’t help that I just like clothes, shopping and fashion…does not help. At all.
Now a junior in college I like to think I have settled into a style that I have made my own. I have found myself inclined to the “Prep” style for multiple reasons: It is appropriate for both work and class, it is full of bright colors and patterns, it is classy, and most of all it is modest. Great. Wonderful. Only one problem, this particular style is not on the cheap side.
Don’t get me wrong, I do all I can to shop wisely. I only shop sales, I settle for Old Navy and not Bananna Republic, I get my Lilly Pulitzer dresses off of ebay, and I only shop Jcrew on their Factory 50% off Already Reduced Prices sales. I also try to clean my closet out once a year and donate to charity. But I often use this to justify my purchases. I find myself convincing myself to buy a dress that I don’t really need because it is 75% off of it’s original price and I did just donate a whole bag of clothes this month. But I have found that something has been happening to my mind and heart, and one day I read a particular quote and was hit, hard, by how true it had become of my own life:
The more I buy, the more I am bought.
The more I build my wardrobe, the more I try to cultivate a particular fashion style I like, and the more articles of clothing or accessories I buy…the more I am bought. The more I am held captive by the desire to be seen as “well-dressed”, “put together”, “fashionable” or any other adjective you want to throw in here. This, I have found, is the nature of the consumerism culture: we think that as soon as we have just that one thing we will be satisfied. But we are not, and we are left wanting more.
I must be truthful though and say that I do love my personal fashion style and the way I dress. And to be honest with you again, and in no way am I trying to vain, I get complimented on my style quite often. When I receive these compliments it obviously makes me feel good, but I sometimes ask myself “Do they truly see me or do they just see the clothes?” Pope Francis recently said:
“The human person is made in the image and likeness of God, not in the image and likeness of material objects.”
And so I have to ask myself “Is the way I am dressing calling attention to the fact that I am made in God’s image as His beloved daughter? Or is the way i am dressing calling attention to the fact that I shop at this-or-that store?”
…But really, so I know this is going to seem like I am kind of leaving you hanging here…but I don’t actually have an answer, or any final insight. This is an ongoing struggle of my heart in my life right now. I am still trying to learn how to be an adult in a professional setting who has to look nice 75% of my life and a college student who is exposed to all of the trends of a “college girl” and a faithful Catholic who recognizes the call to help those in need instead of satisfying my own selfish desires.
There is a song that I have been reflecting on in prayer recently that I want to share with you all. Here it is: